Automatic coronary calcium scoring in low-dose chest computed tomography

I. IĆĄgum, M. Prokop, M. Niemeijer, M. Viergever and B. van Ginneken

IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging 2012;31:2322 - 2334.

DOI PMID Cited by ~83 Download

The calcium burden as estimated from non-ECGsynchronized CT exams acquired in screening of heavy smokers has been shown to be a strong predictor of cardiovascular events. We present a method for automatic coronary calcium scoring with low-dose, non-contrast-enhanced, non-ECG-synchronized chest CT. First, a probabilistic coronary calcium map was created using multi-atlas segmentation. This map assigned an a priori probability for the presence of coronary calcifications at every location in a scan. Subsequently, a statistical pattern recognition system was designed to identify coronary calcifications by texture, size and spatial features; the spatial features were computed using the coronary calcium map. The detected calcifications were quantified in terms of volume and Agatston score. The best results were obtained by merging the results of three different supervised classification systems, namely direct classification with a nearest neighbor classifier, and two-stage classification with nearest neighbor and support vector machine classifiers. We used a total of 231 test scans containing 45,674 mm3 of coronary calcifications. The presented method detected on average 157/198 mm3 (sensitivity 79.2%) of coronary calcium volume with on average 4 mm3 false positive volume. Calcium scoring can be performed automatically in lowdose, non-contrast enhanced, non-ECG-synchronized chest CT in screening of heavy smokers to identify subjects who might benefit from preventive treatment.