Seventy-Peak Kilovoltage High-Pitch Thoracic Aortic CT Angiography without ECG Gating: Evaluation of Image Quality and Radiation Dose

Long Jiang Zhang, Yan E Zhao, U Joseph Schoepf, Stefanie Mangold, Lloyd M Felmly, Xie Li, Chun Xiang Tang, Chang Sheng Zhou, Li Qi, Guang Ming Lu
Academic Radiology 2015, 22 (7): 890-7

RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: To assess the feasibility of 70-kVp high-pitch non-ECG-gated thoracic aortic computed tomography angiography (CTA) with 40-mL contrast agent compared to 100-kVp standard-pitch CTA with 60-mL contrast agent.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty-seven patients (51 men and 16 women; mean age, 55 ± 14 years) received non-ECG-gated aortic CTA at 70 kVp, high pitch of 3.4, and 40-mL contrast agent (group A, n = 31) or CTA at 100-kVp, pitch of 1.2, and 60-mL contrast agent (group B, n = 36). Iterative reconstruction was used in all patients. For image quality assessment, CTA images were evaluated on a three-point scale and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) were calculated and compared. Furthermore, computed tomography (CT) dose index was recorded.

RESULTS: Mean CT values and noise levels were higher in group A compared to group B (all P < .001), whereas SNR and CNR were lower than those in group B (all P < .001). Furthermore, the image quality of the aorta at the level of the diaphragm was lower in group A than that in group B (P < .05). However, image quality was graded as diagnostic in all patients, and motion artifacts of the aortic arch were significantly decreased in group A (P <.05). Interreader agreement was good or excellent for image quality assessment (k = 0.625-0.835). The 70-kVp CTA protocol, which allows dose reduction of 85%, was considered diagnostic in all instances by two readers.

CONCLUSIONS: Our proposed thoracic aortic CTA protocol provides diagnostic information with substantial reduction of both radiation and contrast agent doses compared to standard-pitch CTA at 100 kVp.

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