Calcium scoring using 64-slice MDCT, dual source CT and EBT: a comparative phantom study

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Assessment of calcium scoring (Ca-scoring) on a 64-slice multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) scanner, a dual-source computed tomography (DSCT) scanner and an electron beam tomography (EBT) scanner with a moving cardiac phantom as a function of heart rate, slice thickness and calcium density.

Methods and materials

Three artificial arteries with inserted calcifications of different sizes and densities were scanned at rest (0 beats per minute) and at 50–110 beats per minute (bpm) with an interval of 10 bpm using 64-slice MDCT, DSCT and EBT. Images were reconstructed with a slice thickness of 0.6 and 3.0 mm. Agatston score, volume score and equivalent mass score were determined for each artery. A cardiac motion susceptibility (CMS) index was introduced to assess the susceptibility of Ca-scoring to heart rate. In addition, a difference (Δ) index was introduced to assess the difference of absolute Ca-scoring on MDCT and DSCT with EBT.


Ca-score is relatively constant up to 60 bpm and starts to decrease or increase above 70 bpm, depending on scoring method, calcification density and slice thickness. EBT showed the least susceptibility to cardiac motion with the smallest average CMS-index (2.5). The average CMS-index of 64-slice MDCT (9.0) is approximately 2.5 times the average CMS-index of DSCT (3.6). The use of a smaller slice thickness decreases the CMS-index for both CT-modalities. The Δ-index for DSCT at 0.6 mm (53.2) is approximately 30% lower than the Δ-index for 64-slice MDCT at 0.6 mm (72.0). The Δ-indexes at 3.0 mm are approximately equal for both modalities (96.9 and 102.0 for 64-slice MDCT and DSCT respectively).


Ca-scoring is influenced by heart rate, slice thickness and modality used. Ca-scoring on DSCT is approximately 50% less susceptible to cardiac motion as 64-slice MDCT. DSCT offers a better approximation of absolute calcium score on EBT than 64-slice MDCT when using a smaller slice thickness. A smaller slice thickness reduces the susceptibility to cardiac motion and reduces the difference between CT-data and EBT-data. The best approximation of EBT on CT is found for DSCT with a slice thickness of 0.6 mm.

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