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J Comput Assist Tomogr. 2004 Mar-Apr;28(2):195-203.

Evaluation of small pulmonary arteries by 16-slice multidetector computed tomography: Optimum slab thickness in condensing transaxial images converted into maximum intensity projection images.

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Department of Radiology and Center for Imaging Science, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



The purpose of this study was to determine the optimal slab thickness for condensing transaxial images into maximum intensity projection (MIP) images in the evaluation of small pulmonary arteries using 16-slice multidetector-row computed tomography (MDCT).


Helical computed tomography (CT) scans were obtained from lung apices to bases using 16-slice MDCT [120 kV(peak), 180 mA, beam width of 10 mm, beam pitch of 1.375, and reconstruction thickness of 1.25 mm] in 29 patients suspected of having a pulmonary embolism. Four kinds of image series (1.25-mm thick original transaxial source images and 3 kinds of reconstructed images using the MIP technique with slab thicknesses of 2.5 mm, 5 mm, and 10 mm) were obtained from each patient and forwarded to monitors of a picture archiving and communication system for analysis by 2 independent observers. The observers recorded the name of the segmental (20 total; 10 in each lung) and subsegmental (40 total; 20 in each lung) arteries that were traceable in each image series. Image quality of the 4 image types were graded into 5 scales based on their degree of vascular opacification, the sharpness of the vascular margins of the contrast-enhanced CT angiograms, and the visibility of lung parenchyma (excellent [5] to nondiagnostic [1]) and compared.


In both the 1.25-mm thick original transaxial and 2.5-mm thick MIP images, a higher percentage of subsegmental arteries was traceable (91.3% [2119/2320 observations] and 87.2% [2023/2320 observations], respectively; P <0.05) than in the 5-mm and 10-mm thick MIP images (66.4% [1540/2320] and 40.5% [940/2320], respectively). No statistically significant difference was observed between the 1.25-mm thick transaxial and 2.5-mm thick MIP images in this respect. Image quality of 2.5-mm thick MIP images was superior to that of the 5-mm and 10-mm thick MIP images (P < 0.0001). No statistically significant difference was found between the scores of the image quality of the 1.25-mm thick original transaxial images and the 2.5-mm thick MIP images.


After reducing the image number by one half, 2.5-mm thick MIP images using 16-slice MDCT are found to provide satisfactory images, which are comparable to 1.25-mm thick transaxial images for the analysis of subsegmental pulmonary arteries in patients suspected of pulmonary embolism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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