Do the cardiovascular risk profile and the degree of arterial wall calcification influence the performance of MDCT angiography of lower extremity arteries?

Eur Radiol. 2010 Feb;20(2):497-505. doi: 10.1007/s00330-009-1555-7. Epub 2009 Sep 30.


Objectives: To retrospectively assess the influence of arterial wall calcifications on the accuracy of run-off computed tomographic angiography (CTA) and to analyse whether cardiovascular risk factors are predictors of compromising calcifications.

Methods: In 200 consecutive patients who underwent run-off CTA, calcifications were assessed in pelvic, thigh and calf arteries using a four-point scale. Fifty-nine patients with digital subtraction angiography (DSA) were assessed by both techniques to estimate a threshold of compromising calcifications, defined as a decrease of sensitivity, specificity, PPV or NPV below the lower 95% confidence interval of overall results. Regression analysis was performed to investigate a potential relationship between compromising calcifications and presence of cardiovascular risk factors, advanced patient age and severe peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Results: The highest Ca(++)-score was chosen as the cut-off for the regression analysis, as a relevant decrease of specificity (0.91; overall: 0.95) above the knee and of sensitivity (0.66; overall: 0.83), specificity (0.65; overall: 0.93), positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) below the knee was observed. In the pelvic and thigh arteries, severe PAD (Fontaine Stage >or=III) showed the highest odds ratio for compromising calcifications (2.9), followed by diabetes mellitus (2.4), renal failure (2.1) and smoking (1.7). In the calf, renal failure (12.2) and diabetes mellitus (3.3) were the strongest predictors.

Conclusions: Patients with diabetes and renal failure should be considered as candidates for alternative vessel imaging in order to avoid inconclusive examination results.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiography / methods
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Calcinosis / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lower Extremity / blood supply*
  • Lower Extremity / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods