Clinical utility of ultra high pitch dual source thoracic CT imaging of acute pulmonary embolism in the emergency department: are we one step closer towards a non-gated triple rule out?

Daniel J Hou, David K Tso, Chris Davison, Joao Inacio, Luck J Louis, Savvakis Nicolaou, Anja J Reimann
European Journal of Radiology 2013, 82 (10): 1793-8

OBJECTIVES/PURPOSE: Aim of this study was to retrospectively compare the image quality and the radiation dose of an ultra high pitch CT scan for the evaluation of pulmonary embolism and visualization of cardiac structures in comparison to our institution's standard pulmonary embolism protocol.

METHOD AND MATERIALS: The study cohort consisted of 115 consecutive patients, 57 underwent CT pulmonary angiography on a dual source 128 slice scanner (Siemens Somatom Definition FLASH) via an ultra high pitch mode (Pitch 2.8) while 58 were scanned on a dual source 64 slice scanner (Siemens Somatom Definition Dual Source) with standard pitch (Pitch 0.9). Qualitative image assessment was determined by two blinded radiologists with 3 and 15 years' experience in chest and cardiac CT. Quantitative image assessment was determined by the signal to noise ratio (SNR) and contrast to noise ratio (CNR). Effective radiation dose was calculated via the product of the dose length product.

RESULTS: For the ultra high pitch protocol, 14% (8/57) were positive for pulmonary embolus compared to 13.7% (8/58) for the standard pitch group. 98.2% of the ultra high pitch scans were diagnostic for pulmonary embolus vs. 94.8% of the standard protocol. Visualization of cardiac structures was significantly improved with the ultra high pitch protocol (p<0.0001). Significantly more lung parenchymal motion was observed on the standard protocol (p<0.0001). The mean pulmonary vessel attenuation, SNR, and CNR were not significantly different. The mean effective dose was lower for the ultra high pitch studies (4.09mSv±0.78 vs. 7.72mSv±2.60, p<0.0001).

CONCLUSION: Ultra high pitch CT imaging for pulmonary embolus is a technique which has potential to assess motion free evaluation of most cardiac structures and proximal coronary arteries at lower radiation doses.

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