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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Arthritis Research & Therapy 1/2018

Detection of high cardiovascular risk patients with ankylosing spondylitis based on the assessment of abdominal aortic calcium as compared to carotid ultrasound

Arthritis Research & Therapy > Ausgabe 1/2018
Javier Rueda-Gotor, Fernanda Genre, Alfonso Corrales, Ricardo Blanco, Patricia Fuentevilla, Virginia Portilla, Rosa Expósito, Cristina Mata, Trinitario Pina, Carlos González-Juanatey, Luis Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Miguel A. González-Gay
Wichtige Hinweise
Miguel A. González-Gay, Fernanda Genre and Luis Rodriguez-Rodriguez are contributed equally to this work.



This study aimed to determine whether, besides carotid ultrasound (US), a lateral lumbar spine radiography may also help identify ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients at high risk of cardiovascular (CV) disease.


A set of 125 AS patients older than 35 years without a history of CV events, diabetes mellitus, or chronic kidney disease was recruited. Carotid US and lateral lumbar spine radiography were performed in all of them. The CV risk was calculated according to the total cholesterol systematic coronary risk evaluation (TC-SCORE) algorithm. Presence of carotid plaques was defined following the Mannheim Carotid Intima-media Thickness and Plaque Consensus. Abdominal aortic calcium (AAC) in a plain radiography was defined as calcific densities visible in an area parallel and anterior to the lumbar spine.


Carotid US showed higher sensitivity than lateral lumbar spine radiography to detect high CV risk in the 54 patients with moderate TC-SCORE (61% versus 38.9%). Using carotid plaques as the gold standard test, a predictive model that included a TC-SCORE ≥ 5% or the presence of AAC in the lateral lumbar spine radiography in patients with both moderate and low CV risk (< 5%) according to the TC-SCORE yielded a sensitivity of 50.9% with a specificity of 95.7% to identify high/very high CV-risk AS patients. A positive correlation between AAC and carotid plaques was observed (r2 = 0.49, p < 0.001).


A lateral lumbar spine radiography is a useful tool to identify patients with AS at high risk of CV disease.
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