Abdominal aortic calcification on dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry: methods of assessment and clinical significance
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Abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) can be accurately recognized on lateral spine images intended for vertebral fracture assessment, that are obtained with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Greater amounts of AAC are common in the older population for whom DXA is routinely done, and have been consistently associated with incident atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) events. AAC has also been associated with incident fractures in some prospective studies, but not in others. However, further research is needed to quantify the extent to which measurement of AAC improves prediction of ASCVD events and its impact on physician and patient ASCVD risk management. Additionally, research to develop better, more precise, automated, quantitative methods of AAC assessment on lateral spine densitometric images will hopefully lead to better prediction of clinical outcomes. In conclusion, although the prime indication for densitometric lateral spine imaging remains vertebral fracture assessment, AAC that is found incidentally on lateral spine images should be reported, so that patients and their health care providers are aware of its presence.
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