This is an example of an automated calcium scoring software to speed review of coronary artery calcium (CAC) scoring cardiac computed tomography (CT) scans. This advanced visualization software from Ziosoft uses artificial intelligence to segment the coronary vessels, identify valves and the aorta and then color code tag the calcium deposits and quantify the amount of calcified plaque in each vessel. It tallies the score into a table and computes an overall Agatston risk score. This risk score correlates to that patient's risk for a heart attack in the future. The software notes calcium in the heart outside the coronaries in valve leaflets and the aorta, but excludes this data. This type of automation is now offered by most advanced visualization and CT system vendors. This automation can save a large amount of post-processing time and make it easier for hospitals to offer low-cost CAC CT screening programs.
CAC scans can be used to determine if a patient needs to go on statin therapy. An Agatston score of zero means the patient has no risk of coronary disease.
Calcium in arteries is a marker for damage caused by vessel wall inflammation from atherosclerosis. Calcium can form from previously ruptured necrotic, lipid core plaques, also referred to as vulnerable plaques. These are the types of plaque responsible for heart attacks. When the core of these plaques rupture, the blood reacts to the exposed core similar to a wound and begins to clot, forming a thrombus in the vessel, which can block the blood flow. When the vessel heals over time it calcifies, leaving behind an easily identifiable marker on CT imaging.
This example of software was demonstrated on the expo floor at the 2019 Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT) meeting.
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