Quantitative plaque analysis with A.I.-augmented CCTA in end-stage renal disease and complex CAD

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Clinical imaging






Artificial intelligence; Atherosclerotic plaque characteristics; Coronary artery disease; Coronary computer tomography angiography; Dialysis; End stage renal disease


BACKGROUND: Adverse cardiovascular events are a significant cause of mortality in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. High-risk plaque anatomy may be a significant contributor. However, their atherosclerotic phenotypes have not been described. We sought to define atherosclerotic plaque characteristics (APC) in dialysis patients using artificial-intelligence augmented CCTA. METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed ESRD patients referred for CCTA using an FDA approved artificial-intelligence augmented-CCTA program (Cleerly). Coronary lesions were evaluated for APCs by CCTA. APCs included percent atheroma volume(PAV), low-density non-calcified-plaque (LD-NCP), non-calcified-plaque (NCP), calcified-plaque (CP), length, and high-risk-plaque (HRP), defined by LD-NCP and positive arterial remodeling >1.10 (PR). RESULTS: 79 ESRD patients were enrolled, mean age 65.3 years, 32.9% female. Disease distribution was non-obstructive (65.8%), 1-vessel disease (21.5%), 2-vessel disease (7.6%), and 3-vessel disease (5.1%). Mean total plaque volume (TPV) was 810.0 mm, LD-NCP 16.8 mm, NCP 403.1 mm, and CP 390.1 mm. HRP was present in 81.0% patients. Patients with at least one >50% stenosis, or obstructive lesions, had significantly higher TPV, LD-NCP, NCP, and CP. Patients >65 years had more CP and higher PAV. CONCLUSION: Our study provides novel insight into ESRD plaque phenotypes and demonstrates that artificial-intelligence augmented CCTA analysis is feasible for CAD characterization despite severe calcification. We demonstrate elevated plaque burden and stenosis caused by predominantly non-calcified-plaque. Furthermore, the quantity of calcified-plaques increased with age, with men exhibiting increased number of 2-feature plaques and higher plaque volumes. Artificial-intelligence augmented CCTA analysis of APCs may be a promising metric for cardiac risk stratification and warrants further prospective investigation.