Variations in CT Utilization, Protocols, and Radiation Doses in COVID-19 Pneumonia: Results from 28 Countries in the IAEA Study.

Published on Mar 1, 2021in Radiology7.931
· DOI :10.1148/RADIOL.2020203453
Fatemeh Homayounieh8
Estimated H-index: 8
(Harvard University),
Ola Holmberg10
Estimated H-index: 10
(IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency)
+ 17 AuthorsJenia Vassileva15
Estimated H-index: 15
Background There is lack of guidance on specific CT protocols for imaging patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia. Purpose To assess international variations in CT utilization, protocols, and radiation doses in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. Materials and Methods In this retrospective data collection study, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) coordinated a survey between May and July 2020 regarding CT utilization, protocols, and radiation doses from 62 healthcare sites in 34 countries across five continents for CT exams performed in COVID-19 pneumonia. The questionnaire obtained information on local prevalence, method of diagnosis, most frequent imaging, indications for CT, and specific policies on use of CT in COVID-19 pneumonia. Collected data included general information (patient age, weight, clinical indication), CT equipment (CT make and model, year of installation, number of detector rows), scan protocols (body region, scan phases, tube current and potential), and radiation dose descriptors (CT dose index (CTDIvol) and dose length product (DLP)). Descriptive statistics and generalized estimating equations were performed. Results Data from 782 patients (median age (interquartile range) of 59(15) years) from 54 healthcare sites in 28 countries were evaluated. Less than one-half of the healthcare sites used CT for initial diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia and three-fourth used CT for assessing disease severity. CTDIvol varied based on CT vendors (7-11mGy, p<0.001), number of detector-rows (8-9mGy, p<0.001), year of CT installation (7-10mGy, p=0.006), and reconstruction techniques (7-10mGy, p=0.03). Multiphase chest CT exams performed in 20% of sites (11 of 54) were associated with higher DLP compared with single-phase chest CT exams performed in 80% (43 of 54 sites) (p=0.008). Conclusion CT use, scan protocols, and radiation doses in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia showed wide variation across healthcare sites within the same and different countries. Many patients were scanned multiple times and/or with multiphase CT scan protocols. See also the editorial by Lee.
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