Image quality and radiation exposure using different low-dose scan protocols in dual-source CT coronary angiography: randomized study

Lisan A Neefjes, Anoeshka S Dharampal, Alexia Rossi, Koen Nieman, Annick C Weustink, Marcel L Dijkshoorn, Gert-Jan R Ten Kate, Admir Dedic, Stella L Papadopoulou, Marcel van Straten, Filippo Cademartiri, Gabriël P Krestin, Pim J de Feyter, Nico R Mollet
Radiology 2011, 261 (3): 779-86

PURPOSE: To compare image quality, radiation dose, and their relationship with heart rate of computed tomographic (CT) coronary angiographic scan protocols by using a 128-section dual-source CT scanner.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Institutional review board approved the study; all patients gave informed consent. Two hundred seventy-two patients (175 men, 97 women; mean ages, 58 and 59 years, respectively) referred for CT coronary angiography were categorized according to heart rate: less than 65 beats per minute (group A) and 65 beats per minute or greater (group B). Patients were randomized to undergo prospective high-pitch spiral scanning and narrow-window prospective sequential scanning in group A (n = 160) or wide-window prospective sequential scanning and retrospective spiral scanning in group B (n = 112). Image quality was graded (1 = nondiagnostic; 2 = artifacts present, diagnostic; 3 = no artifacts) and compared (Mann-Whitney and Student t tests).

RESULTS: In group A, mean image quality grade was significantly lower with high-pitch spiral versus sequential scanning (2.67 ± 0.38 [standard deviation] vs 2.86 ± 0.21; P < .001). In a subpopulation (heart rate, <55 beats per minute), mean image quality grade was similar (2.81 ± 0.30 vs 2.94 ± 0.08; P = .35). In group B, image quality grade was comparable between sequential and retrospective spiral scanning (2.81 ± 0.28 vs 2.80 ± 0.38; P = .54). Mean estimated radiation dose was significantly lower (high-pitch spiral vs sequential scanning) in group A (for 100 kV, 0.81 mSv ± 0.30 vs 2.74 mSv ± 1.14 [P < .001]; for 120 kV, 1.65 mSv ± 0.69 vs 4.21 mSv ± 1.20 [P < .001]) and in group B (sequential vs retrospective spiral scanning) (for 100 kV, 4.07 mSv ± 1.07 vs 5.54 mSv ± 1.76 [P = .02]; for 120 kV, 7.50 mSv ± 1.79 vs 9.83 mSv ± 3.49 [P = .1]).

CONCLUSION: A high-pitch spiral CT coronary angiographic protocol should be applied in patients with regular and low (<55 beats per minute) heart rates; a sequential protocol is preferred in all others.

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