Estimation of cardiovascular risk on routine chest CT: Ordinal coronary artery calcium scoring as an accurate predictor of Agatston score ranges

Lea Azour, Michael A Kadoch, Thomas J. Ward, Corey D. Eber, Adam H. Jacobi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background Coronary artery calcium (CAC) is often identified on routine chest computed tomography (CT). The purpose of our study was to evaluate whether ordinal scoring of CAC on non-gated, routine chest CT is an accurate predictor of Agatston score ranges in a community-based population, and in particular to determine the accuracy of an ordinal score of zero on routine chest CT. Methods Two thoracic radiologists reviewed consecutive same-day ECG-gated and routine non-gated chest CT scans of 222 individuals. CAC was quantified using the Agatston scoring on the ECG-gated scans, and using an ordinal method on routine scans, with a score from 0 to 12. The pattern and distribution of CAC was assessed. The correlation between routine exam ordinal scores and Agatston scores in ECG-gated exams, as well as the accuracy of assigning a zero calcium score on routine chest CT was determined. Results CAC was most prevalent in the left anterior descending coronary artery in both single and multi-vessel coronary artery disease. There was a strong correlation between the non-gated ordinal and ECG-gated Agatston scores (r = 0.811, p < 0.01). Excellent inter-reader agreement (k = 0.95) was shown for the presence (total ordinal score ≥1) or absence (total ordinal score = 0) of CAC on routine chest CT. The negative predictive value for a total ordinal score of zero on routine CT was 91.6% (95% CI, 85.1–95.9). Total ordinal scores of 0, 1–3, 4–5, and ≥6 corresponded to average Agatston scores of 0.52 (0.3–0.8), 98.7 (78.2–117.1), 350.6 (264.9–436.3) and 1925.4 (1526.9–2323.9). Conclusion Visual assessment of CAC on non-gated routine chest CT accurately predicts Agatston score ranges, including the zero score, in ECG-gated CT. Inclusion of this information in radiology reports may be useful to convey important information on cardiovascular risk, particularly premature atherosclerosis in younger patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Agatston
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Coronary artery calcium
  • Ordinal scoring
  • Routine chest CT
  • Visual assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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