Coronary calcium scores are systematically underestimated at a large chest size: A multivendor phantom study

Martin J. Willemink*, Bronislaw Abramiuc, Annemarie M. den Harder, Niels R. van der Werf, Pim A. de Jong, Ricardo P J Budde, Joachim E. Wildberger, Rozemarijn Vliegenthart, Tineke P. Willems, Marcel J W Greuter, Tim Leiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the effect of chest size on coronary calcium score (CCS) as assessed with new-generation CT systems from 4 major vendors.

Methods: An anthropomorphic, small-sized (300 × 200 mm) chest phantom containing 100 small calcifications (diameters, 0.5-2.0 mm) was evaluated with and without an extension ring on state-of-the-art CT systems from 4 vendors. The extension ring was used to mimic a patient with a large chest size (400 × 300 mm). Image acquisition was repeated 5 times with small translations and/or rotations. Routine clinical acquisition and reconstruction protocols for small and large patients were used. CCS was quantified as Agatston and mass scores with vendor software.

Results: The small-sized phantom resulted in median (interquartiles) Agatston scores of 10 (9-35), 136 (123-146), 34 (30-37), and 87 (85-89) for Philips, GE, Siemens, and Toshiba, respectively. Mass scores were 4 mg (3-9 mg), 23 mg (21-27 mg), 8 mg (8-9 mg), and 20 mg (20-20 mg), respectively. Adding the extension ring resulted in reduced Agatston scores for all vendors (17%-48%) and mass scores for 2 vendors (11%-49%). Median Agatston scores decreased to 9 (5-10), 79 (60-80), 27 (24-32), and 45 (29-53) units, and median mass scores remained similar for Philips at 4 mg (4-6 mg) and Siemens at 8 mg (7-8 mg) and decreased for the other vendors to 13 mg (11-14 mg) and 10 mg (8-13 mg), respectively.

Conclusion: This multivendor phantom study showed that CCS can be underestimated up to 50% (49%-66%) for Agatston scores and 49% (36%-59%) for mass scores at a larger chest size, which may be relevant for women and large patients. However, CCS underestimation by chest size differs considerably by vendor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-421
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • Agatston score
  • Chest size
  • Computed tomography
  • Coronary calcium score


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