Great suggestion, George, and thanks also for the offer to host us - very kind!
I did some more poking around. As I understand it now, there are two ways to get a CAC score:
1. Electron Beam Computed Tomography (EBCT or just EBT). This is the device used in the research studies which established the predictive power of CAC score tracking. The manufacturer was bought by GE in 2001. Since that time, the industry has moved to the more versatile 64-MDCT technology, and GE no longer sells EBCT devices.
2. 64 Slice Multidetector Computed Tomography (64-MDCT). Because this device provides a superset of EBCT functionality, it has become the scanner of choice for radiology practices. It seems to read about 20% lower
I didn't find many well-equipped radiology labs that are happy to do business directly. Most of them seem to require referrals. I couldn't identify such a lab in Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA (near my home), but I did locate one in Bend, OR
, about three hours away. It offers 64-MDCT CAC scores for $99.
Since much of the diagnostic value seems to be in measuring the rate of progression over time, I lean toward starting my results series with 64-MDCT since it seems likely to be around longer.
Incidentally, this article
tells me that EBCT precision is close to Dr. Blanchet's 15% safe annual progression threshold overall and much much worse at lower non-zero CAC scores, and this article
tells me that 64-MDCT offers similar precision. I wonder if Dr. Blanchet's 15% guideline is just a practical way of saying 0% while allowing for device imprecision. Also, given the precision findings, it's pretty clear that a 300% increase from 2 to 8 is NOT the same as a 300% increase from 200 to 800.