BACKGROUND: Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) volume is a marker of visceral obesity that can be measured in coronary computed tomography angiograms (CCTA). The clinical value of integrating this measurement in routine CCTA interpretation has not been documented. OBJECTIVES: This study sought to develop a deep-learning network for automated quantification of EAT volume from CCTA, test it in patients who are technically challenging, and validate its prognostic value in routine clinical care. METHODS: The deep-learning network was trained and validated to autosegment EAT volume in 3,720 CCTA scans from the ORFAN (Oxford Risk Factors and Noninvasive Imaging Study) cohort. The model was tested in patients with challenging anatomy and scan artifacts and applied to a longitudinal cohort of 253 patients post-cardiac surgery and 1,558 patients from the SCOT-HEART (Scottish Computed Tomography of the Heart) Trial, to investigate its prognostic value. RESULTS: External validation of the deep-learning network yielded a concordance correlation coefficient of 0.970 for machine vs human. EAT volume was associated with coronary artery disease (odds ratio [OR] per SD increase in EAT volume: 1.13 [95% CI: 1.04-1.30]; P = 0.01), and atrial fibrillation (OR: 1.25 [95% CI:1.08-1.40]; P = 0.03), after correction for risk factors (including body mass index). EAT volume predicted all-cause mortality (HR per SD: 1.28 [95% CI: 1.10-1.37]; P = 0.02), myocardial infarction (HR: 1.26 [95% CI:1.09-1.38]; P = 0.001), and stroke (HR: 1.20 [95% CI: 1.09-1.38]; P = 0.02) independently of risk factors in SCOT-HEART (5-year follow-up). It also predicted in-hospital (HR: 2.67 [95% CI: 1.26-3.73]; P ≤ 0.01) and long-term post-cardiac surgery atrial fibrillation (7-year follow-up; HR: 2.14 [95% CI: 1.19-2.97]; P ≤ 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Automated assessment of EAT volume is possible in CCTA, including in patients who are technically challenging; it forms a powerful marker of metabolically unhealthy visceral obesity, which could be used for cardiovascular risk stratification.
JACC Cardiovasc Imaging
adipose tissue, atherosclerosis, atrial fibrillation, computed tomography, deep-learning, visceral fat