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Radiology. 2004 Aug;232(2):347-53.

Comparison of Z-axis automatic tube current modulation technique with fixed tube current CT scanning of abdomen and pelvis.

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Division of Abdominal Imaging and Intervention, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, White 270-E, 55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



To compare image quality, diagnostic acceptability, and radiation exposure associated with 16-section multi-detector row computed tomographic (CT) examinations of abdomen and pelvis performed with z-axis modulation technique of automatic tube current modulation and with manual selection of fixed tube current.


Sixty-two consecutive subjects (mean age, 60 years; age range, 19-84 years; male-to-female ratio, 35:27) underwent follow-up CT of abdomen and pelvis with use of a 16-section multi-detector row scanner and z-axis modulation technique (10.5-12.0-HU noise index, 10-380 mA). Scanning parameters included 140 kVp, 0.5-1.0-second gantry rotation time, 0.938:1 beam pitch, and 5-mm reconstructed section thickness. For each subject, images obtained with z-axis modulation were compared with previous images obtained with fixed tube current (200-300 mA) and with other parameters identical. Images were compared for noise and diagnostic acceptability by two subspecialty radiologists using a five-point scale (1, unacceptable; 3, acceptable; 5, excellent) at five levels: upper liver at diaphragm, porta hepatis, right kidney hilum, iliac crest, and upper margin of acetabulum. Tube current and gantry rotation time used for acquisitions at these levels were recorded. Data were analyzed with parametric and nonparametric statistical tests.


Although no significant differences were found (P =.34), images acquired with z-axis modulation at the levels of the upper liver (diaphragm) and acetabulum had a higher noise and lower diagnostic quality, compared with images acquired with fixed tube current. Compared with fixed tube current, z-axis modulation resulted in tube current-time product reduction in 54 (87%) of 62 examinations (mean reduction, 71.2 mAs) and increase in eight (13%) (mean increase, 17.0 mAs).


Compared with manually selected fixed tube current, z-axis automatic tube current modulation resulted in reduced tube current-time product and similar image noise and diagnostic acceptability at CT of abdomen and pelvis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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