Alavi–carlsen calcification score (Accs): A simple measure of global cardiac atherosclerosis burden

Babak Saboury, Lars Edenbrandt, Reza Piri, Oke Gerke, Tom Werner, Armin Arbab-Zadeh, Abass Alavi, Poul Flemming Høilund-Carlsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multislice cardiac CT characterizes late stage macrocalcification in epicardial arteries as op-posed to PET/CT, which mirrors early phase arterial wall changes in epicardial and transmural coronary arteries. With regard to tracer, there has been a shift from using mainly18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), indicating inflammation, to applying predominantly18 F-sodium fluoride (NaF) due to its high affinity for arterial wall microcalcification and more consistent association with cardiovascular risk factors. To make NaF-PET/CT an indispensable adjunct to clinical assessment of cardiac atherosclerosis, the Alavi–Carlsen Calcification Score (ACCS) has been proposed. It constitutes a global assessment of cardiac atherosclerosis burden in the individual patient, supported by an artificial intelligence (AI)-based approach for fast observer-independent segmentation. Common measures for characterizing epicardial coronary atherosclerosis by NaF-PET/CT as the maximum standardized uptake value (SUV) or target-to-background ratio are more versatile, error prone, and less reproducible than the ACCS, which equals the average cardiac SUV. The AI-based approach ensures a quick and easy delineation of the entire heart in 3D to obtain the ACCS expressing ongoing global cardiac atherosclerosis, even before it gives rise to CT-detectable coronary calcification. The quantification of global cardiac atherosclerotic burden by the ACCS is suited for management triage and monitoring of disease progression with and without intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1421
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Aorta
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Calcium
  • Heart
  • Imaging
  • Microcalcification
  • PET/CT
  • Score
  • Sodium fluoride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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