Improved Calcium Scoring at Dual-Energy Computed Tomography Angiography Using a High-Z Contrast Element and Novel Material Separation Technique

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Abstract

Objectives

The aim of this study was to compare the accuracy of existing dual-energy computed tomography (CT) angiography coronary artery calcium scoring methods to those obtained using an experimental tungsten-based contrast material and a recently described contrast material extraction process (CMEP).

Methods

Phantom coronary arteries of varied diameters, with different densities and arcs of simulated calcified plaque, were sequentially filled with water, iodine, and tungsten contrast materials and scanned within a thorax phantom at rapid-kVp-switching dual-energy CT. Calcium and contrast density images were obtained by material decomposition (MD) and CMEP. Relative calcium scoring errors among the 4 reconstructed datasets were compared with a ground truth, 120-kVp dataset.

Results

Compared with the 120-kVp dataset, tungsten CMEP showed a significantly lower mean absolute error in calcium score (6.2%, P < 0.001) than iodine CMEP, tungsten MD, and iodine MD (9.9%, 15.7%, and 40.8%, respectively).

Conclusions

Novel contrast elements and material separation techniques offer improved coronary artery calcium scoring accuracy and show potential to improve the use of dual-energy CT angiography in a clinical setting.

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