Dose reduction for CT coronary calcium scoring with a calcium-aware image reconstruction technique: a phantom study

Published on Feb 19, 2020in European Radiology4.101
· DOI :10.1007/S00330-020-06709-9
Ronald Booij7
Estimated H-index: 7
(EUR: Erasmus University Rotterdam),
Niels R. van der Werf5
Estimated H-index: 5
(UU: Utrecht University)
+ 2 AuthorsMarcel van Straten12
Estimated H-index: 12
(EUR: Erasmus University Rotterdam)
To assess the dose reduction potential of a calcium-aware reconstruction technique, which aims at tube voltage-independent computed tomography (CT) numbers for calcium. A cardiothoracic phantom, mimicking three different patient sizes, was scanned with two calcium inserts (named D100 and CCI), containing calcifications varying in size and density. Tube voltage was varied both manually (range 70–150 and Sn100 kVp) and automatically. Tube current was automatically adapted to maintain reference image quality defined at 120 kVp. Data was reconstructed with the standard reconstruction technique (kernel Qr36) and the calcium-aware reconstruction technique (kernel Sa36). We assessed the radiation dose reduction potential (volumetric CT dose index values (CTDIvol)), noise (standard deviation (SD)), mean CT number (HU) of each calcification, and Agatston scores for varying kVp. Results were compared with the reference acquired at 120 kVp and reconstructed with Qr36. Automatic selection of the optimal tube voltage resulted in a CTDIvol reduction of 22%, 15%, and 12% compared with the reference for the small, medium, and large phantom, respectively. CT numbers differed up to 64% for the standard reconstruction and 11% for the calcium-aware reconstruction. Similarly, Agatston scores deviated up to 40% and 8% for the standard and calcium-aware reconstruction technique, respectively. CT numbers remained consistent with comparable calcium scores when the calcium-aware image reconstruction technique was applied with varying tube voltage. Less consistency was observed in small calcifications with low density. Automatic reduction of tube voltage resulted in a dose reduction of up to 22%. • The calcium-aware image reconstruction technique allows for consistent CT numbers when varying the tube voltage. • Automatic reduction of tube voltage results in a reduced radiation exposure of up to 22%. • This study stresses the known limitations of the current Agatston score technique.
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