Quantitative analysis of epicardial fat volume: effects of scanning protocol and reproducibility of measurements in non-contrast cardiac CT vs. coronary CT angiography

Luigia D’Errico, Francesco Salituri, Marco Ciardetti, Riccardo Favilla, Alessandro Mazzarisi, Giuseppe Coppini, Carlo Bartolozzi, Paoli Marraccini


Background: Several studies have focused on the role of epicardial fat in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The main purpose of the study was to evaluate a computerized method for the quantitative analysis of epicardial fat volume (EFV) by non-contrast cardiac CT (NCT) for coronary calcium scan and coronary CT angiography (coronary CTA).
Methods: Thirty patients (61±12.5 years, 73% male, body mass index (BMI) =25.9±6.3 kg/m2) referred to our Institution for suspected coronary artery disease (CAD) underwent NCT and coronary CTA. Epicardial boundaries were traced by 2 experienced operators (operator 1, operators 2) on 3 and 6 short-axis (SA) slices. EFV was computed with a semi-automatic method using an in-house developed software based on spherical harmonic representation of the epicardial surface. In order to analyze the inter-observer variability both the Coefficient of Repeatability (CR) and Intra Class Correlation (ICC) were computed.
Results: The total EFV was 103.62±50.97 and 94.96±67.91 cc in NCT and coronary CTA with non-significant difference (P=0.292). CR error was 10.22 cc for operator 1 and 11.31 cc for operator 2 in NCT and 7.99 cc for operator 1 and 7.75 cc for operator 2 in coronary CTA. To analyze the inter-observer variability CR and ICC were computed. CR was 8.17 and 8.39 cc with NCT and 7.07 and 7.21 cc with CTA for 6 and 3 SA slices respectively. ICC values >0.99 were obtained in all cases. The right ventricular EFV was 67.23±31.4 and 57.41±34.3 cc for NCT and coronary CTA respectively; the corresponding values for left ventricular EFV were 38.01±19.1 and 35.27±25.9 cc.
Conclusions: Both NCT and coronary CTA can be used with low intra- and inter-observer variability for computer-assisted measurements of EFV. Cardiac CT may allow a fast and reliable computation of EFV in clinical setting.