Abdominal CT with model-based iterative reconstruction (MBIR): initial results of a prospective trial comparing ultralow-dose with standard-dose imaging

Perry J Pickhardt, Meghan G Lubner, David H Kim, Jie Tang, Julie A Ruma, Alejandro Muñoz del Rio, Guang-Hong Chen
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 2012, 199 (6): 1266-74

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to report preliminary results of an ongoing prospective trial of ultralow-dose abdominal MDCT.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Imaging with standard-dose contrast-enhanced (n = 21) and unenhanced (n = 24) clinical abdominal MDCT protocols was immediately followed by ultralow-dose imaging of a matched series of 45 consecutively registered adults (mean age, 57.9 years; mean body mass index, 28.5). The ultralow-dose images were reconstructed with filtered back projection (FBP), adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASIR), and model-based iterative reconstruction (MBIR). Standard-dose series were reconstructed with FBP (reference standard). Image noise was measured at multiple predefined sites. Two blinded abdominal radiologists interpreted randomly presented ultralow-dose images for multilevel subjective image quality (5-point scale) and depiction of organ-based focal lesions.

RESULTS: Mean dose reduction relative to the standard series was 74% (median, 78%; range, 57-88%; mean effective dose, 1.90 mSv). Mean multiorgan image noise for low-dose MBIR was 14.7 ± 2.6 HU, significantly lower than standard-dose FBP (28.9 ± 9.9 HU), low-dose FBP (59.2 ± 23.3 HU), and ASIR (45.6 ± 14.1 HU) (p < 0.001). The mean subjective image quality score for low-dose MBIR (3.0 ± 0.5) was significantly higher than for low-dose FBP (1.6 ± 0.7) and ASIR (1.8 ± 0.7) (p < 0.001). Readers identified 213 focal noncalcific lesions with standard-dose FBP. Pooled lesion detection was higher for low-dose MBIR (79.3% [169/213]) compared with low-dose FBP (66.2% [141/213]) and ASIR (62.0% [132/213]) (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: MBIR shows great potential for substantially reducing radiation doses at routine abdominal CT. Both FBP and ASIR are limited in this regard owing to reduced image quality and diagnostic capability. Further investigation is needed to determine the optimal dose level for MBIR that maintains adequate diagnostic performance. In general, objective and subjective image quality measurements do not necessarily correlate with diagnostic performance at ultralow-dose CT.

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