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Open Access Research article

Vascular calcification on plain radiographs is associated with carotid intima media thickness, malnutrition and cardiovascular events in dialysis patients: a prospective observational study

Won Suk An12 and Young Ki Son1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Dong-A University, 3Ga-1, Dongdaesin-Dong, Seo-Gu, Busan 602-715, Republic of Korea

2 Institute of Medical Science, Dong-A University College of Medicine, Busan, Korea

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BMC Nephrology 2013, 14:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-27

Published: 29 January 2013



Vascular calcification (VC) and carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) are strongly associated with cardiovascular (CV) disease. We hypothesized that significant VC on plain radiographs is associated with CIMT and CV events in dialysis patients. In addition, we evaluated risk factors for VC progression on plain radiographs in dialysis patients.


In this 2-year observational, prospective study, 67 dialysis patients were included. We checked plain radiographs at baseline and after 2 years. Laboratory tests and malnutrition score were obtained at baseline, after 12 months, and after 24 months.


The mean age of patients was 56.3 ± 10.3 years and duration of dialysis was 41.3 ± 34.5 months. The prevalence of significant VC was 61.2% and the prevalence of carotid artery atheromatous plaques was 55.6%. Mean CIMT, malnutrition scores, CRP level and prevalence of carotid atheromatous plaques were significantly higher in patients with significant VC. Serum albumin and total iron binding capacity were significantly lower in patients with significant VC compared to patients without significant VC. During a mean observational period of 22 months, patients without significant VC showed lower CV events by the Kaplan-Meyer method (p = 0.010). Progression of VC was found in 35.7% among 56 patients followed up. Hemoglobin after 24 months was an independent factor for progression of VC (Exp(B) = 0.344, 95% Confidence Interval = 0.13 – 0.96, p = 0.034).


Significant VC on plain radiograph was associated with CIMT, malnutrition, inflammation, and CV events in dialysis patients. Conditions which increase hemoglobin level may retard progression of VC in dialysis patients.

Cardiovascular disease; Carotid intima media thickness; Malnutrition; Vascular calcification