Send to

Choose Destination
J Nucl Med Technol. 2007 Dec;35(4):213-25; quiz 226-8. Epub 2007 Nov 15.

Principles of CT: radiation dose and image quality.

Author information

Department of Radiation Therapy and Medical Physics, Hartford Hospital, 80 Seymour Street, Hartford, CT 06102, USA.


This article discusses CT radiation dose, the measurement of CT dose, and CT image quality. The most commonly used dose descriptor is CT dose index, which represents the dose to a location (e.g., depth) in a scanned volume from a complete series of slices. A weighted average of the CT dose index measured at the center and periphery of dose phantoms provides a convenient single-number estimate of patient dose for a procedure, and this value (or a related indicator that includes the scanned length) is often displayed on the operator's console. CT image quality, as in most imaging, is described in terms of contrast, spatial resolution, image noise, and artifacts. A strength of CT is its ability to visualize structures of low contrast in a subject, a task that is limited primarily by noise and is therefore closely associated with radiation dose: The higher the dose contributing to the image, the less apparent is image noise and the easier it is to perceive low-contrast structures. Spatial resolution is ultimately limited by sampling, but both image noise and resolution are strongly affected by the reconstruction filter. As a result, diagnostically acceptable image quality at acceptable doses of radiation requires appropriately designed clinical protocols, including appropriate kilovolt peaks, amperages, slice thicknesses, and reconstruction filters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center