Dual energy CT of the chest: how about the dose?

Jan C Schenzle, Wieland H Sommer, Klement Neumaier, Gisela Michalski, Ursula Lechel, Konstantin Nikolaou, Christoph R Becker, Maximilian F Reiser, Thorsten R C Johnson
Investigative Radiology 2010, 45 (6): 347-53

OBJECTIVE: New generation Dual Source computed tomography (CT) scanners offer different x-ray spectra for Dual Energy imaging. Yet, an objective, manufacturer independent verification of the dose required for the different spectral combinations is lacking. The aim of this study was to assess dose and image noise of 2 different Dual Energy CT settings with reference to a standard chest scan and to compare image noise and contrast to noise ratios (CNR). Also, exact effective dose length products (E/DLP) conversion factors were to be established based on the objectively measured dose.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: An anthropomorphic Alderson phantom was assembled with thermoluminescent detectors (TLD) and its chest was scanned on a Dual Source CT (Siemens Somatom Definition) in dual energy mode at 140 and 80 kVp with 14 x 1.2 mm collimation. The same was performed on another Dual Source CT (Siemens Somatom Definition Flash) at 140 kVp with 0.8 mm tin filter (Sn) and 100 kVp at 128 x 0.6 mm collimation. Reference scans were obtained at 120 kVp with 64 x 0.6 mm collimation at equivalent CT dose index of 5.4 mGy*cm. Syringes filled with water and 17.5 mg iodine/mL were scanned with the same settings. Dose was calculated from the TLD measurements and the dose length products of the scanner. Image noise was measured in the phantom scans and CNR and spectral contrast were determined in the iodine and water samples. E/DLP conversion factors were calculated as ratio between the measured dose form the TLDs and the dose length product given in the patient protocol.

RESULTS: The effective dose measured with TLDs was 2.61, 2.69, and 2.70 mSv, respectively, for the 140/80 kVp, the 140 Sn/100 kVp, and the standard 120 kVp scans. Image noise measured in the average images of the phantom scans was 11.0, 10.7, and 9.9 HU (P > 0.05). The CNR of iodine with optimized image blending was 33.4 at 140/80 kVp, 30.7 at 140Sn/100 kVp and 14.6 at 120 kVp. E/DLP conversion factors were 0.0161 mSv/mGy*cm for the 140/80 kVp protocol, 0.0181 mSv/mGy*cm for the Sn140/100 kVp mode and 0.0180 mSv/mGy*cm for the 120 kVp examination.

CONCLUSION: Dual Energy CT is feasible without additional dose. There is no significant difference in image noise, while CNR can be doubled with optimized dual energy CT reconstructions. A restriction in collimation is required for dose-neutrality at 140/80 kVp, whereas this is not necessary at 140 Sn/100 kVp. Thus, CT can be performed routinely in Dual Energy mode without additional dose or compromises in image quality.

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