Deep Learning–Quantified Calcium Scores for Automatic Cardiovascular Mortality Prediction at Lung Screening Low-Dose CT

B. de Vos, N. Lessmann, P. de Jong and I. Išgum

Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging 2021;3(2):e190219.


Purpose: To examine the prognostic value of location-specific arterial calcification quantities at lung screening low-dose CT for the prediction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality. Materials and Methods: This retrospective study included 5564 participants who underwent low-dose CT from the National Lung Screening Trial between August 2002 and April 2004, who were followed until December 2009. A deep learning network was trained to quantify six types of vascular calcification: thoracic aorta calcification (TAC); aortic and mitral valve calcification; and coronary artery calcification (CAC) of the left main, the left anterior descending, and the right coronary artery. TAC and CAC were determined in six evenly distributed slabs spatially aligned among chest CT images. CVD mortality prediction was performed with multivariable logistic regression using least absolute shrinkage and selection operator. The methods were compared with semiautomatic baseline prediction using self-reported participant characteristics, such as age, history of smoking, and history of illness. Statistical significance between the prediction models was tested using the nonparametric DeLong test. Results: The prediction model was trained with data from 4451 participants (median age, 61 years; 37.9\% women) and then tested on data from 1113 participants (median age, 61 years; 37.9\% women). The prediction model using calcium scores achieved a C statistic of 0.74 (95\% CI: 0.69, 0.79), and it outperformed the baseline model using only participant characteristics (C statistic, 0.69; P = .049). Best results were obtained when combining all variables (C statistic, 0.76; P < .001). Conclusion: Five-year CVD mortality prediction using automatically extracted image-based features is feasible at lung screening low-dose CT.