Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry in the Evaluation of Abdominal Aortic Calcifications

Alberto Bazzocchi, Federica Ciccarese, Danila Diano, Paolo Spinnato, Ugo Albisinni, Cristina Rossi, Giuseppe Guglielmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic performance of the new dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry equipment vs digital radiography (DR) in the detection and scoring of abdominal aortic calcifications (AACs). Seventy-five patients with indication for morphometric evaluation of the spine underwent vertebral fracture assessment (VFA) and spinal DR (gold standard). The radiographic and VFA images were analyzed to detect AAC using a previously validated 24-point scale (AAC-24) and a simplified 8-point scale (AAC-8). The evaluation was conducted by 2 expert radiologists and repeated by the more experienced of the 2 after 7. d to verify the results. Patients with a score of 5 or more in AAC-24 and 3 or more in AAC-8 were considered at risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). The aorta was not completely visible in 11 VFA and 1 DR images. DR detected AAC in 42 of the 63 patients (66.7%), whereas 15 patients (23.8%) were considered at risk for CVD. The VFA showed sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in the detection of AAC with values of 78.6%, 85.7%, and 81.0%, respectively, with both AAC-24 and AAC-8; in the identification of patients at risk for CVD, VFA demonstrated sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy, respectively, with values of 86.7%, 100%, and 96.8% using AAC-24 and 86.7%, 93.8%, and 92.1% using AAC-8. In the detection of AAC, intraobserver agreement was superimposable using both the techniques (κ. =. 1.00), whereas in the identification of patients at risk for CVD, kappa values were 0.96 and 0.95 using AAC-24 and 1.00 and 0.96 using AAC-8 for DR and VFA, respectively. Interobserver agreement in the evaluation of the presence/absence of AAC showed a kappa value of 0.76 for DR and 0.71 for VFA, whereas kappa values of 0.91 and 0.87 for DR and 0.85 and 0.83 for VFA were achieved for CVD risk using AAC-24 and AAC-8, respectively. AAC can be easily and accurately diagnosed by VFA with satisfactory accuracy, reproducibility, and repeatability. VFA may be used in the assessment and monitoring of AAC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-204
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Densitometry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Abdominal aortic calcifications
  • Aorta
  • Risk factors
  • Spine
  • Vertebral fracture assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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