Opportunistic Screening at Abdominal CT: Use of Automated Body Composition Biomarkers for Added Cardiometabolic Value
Radiographics . Mar-Apr 2021;41(2):524-542. doi: 10.1148/rg.2021200056.
Perry J Pickhardt, Peter M Graffy, Alberto A Perez, Meghan G Lubner, Daniel C Elton, Ronald M Summers
Abdominal CT is a frequently performed imaging examination for a wide variety of clinical indications. In addition to the immediate reason for scanning, each CT examination contains robust additional data on body composition that generally go unused in routine clinical practice. There is now growing interest in harnessing this additional information. Prime examples of cardiometabolic information include measurement of bone mineral density for osteoporosis screening, quantification of aortic calcium for assessment of cardiovascular risk, quantification of visceral fat for evaluation of metabolic syndrome, assessment of muscle bulk and density for diagnosis of sarcopenia, and quantification of liver fat for assessment of hepatic steatosis. All of these relevant biometric measures can now be fully automated through the use of artificial intelligence algorithms, which provide rapid and objective assessment and allow large-scale population-based screening. Initial investigations into these measures of body composition have demonstrated promising performance for prediction of future adverse events that matches or exceeds the best available clinical prediction models, particularly when these CT-based measures are used in combination. In this review, the concept of CT-based opportunistic screening is discussed, and an overview of the various automated biomarkers that can be derived from essentially all abdominal CT examinations is provided, drawing heavily on the authors' experience. As radiology transitions from a volume-based to a value-based practice, opportunistic screening represents a promising example of adding value to services that are already provided. If the potentially high added value of these objective CT-based automated measures is ultimately confirmed in subsequent investigations, this opportunistic screening approach could be considered for intentional CT-based screening.
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