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Insights Imaging. 2014 Apr;5(2):217-30. doi: 10.1007/s13244-014-0310-z. Epub 2014 Feb 7.

Non-contrast CT at comparable dose to an abdominal radiograph in patients with acute renal colic; impact of iterative reconstruction on image quality and diagnostic performance.

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Department of Radiology, Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Cork, Ireland.



The aim was to assess the performance of low-dose non-contrast CT of the urinary tract (LD-CT) acquired at radiation exposures close to that of abdominal radiography using adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASiR).


Thirty-three patients with clinically suspected renal colic were prospectively included. Conventional dose (CD-CT) and LD-CT data sets were contemporaneously acquired. LD-CT images were reconstructed with 40 %, 70 % and 90 % ASiR. Image quality was subjectively and objectively measured. Images were also clinically interpreted.


Mean ED was 0.48 ± 0.07 mSv for LD-CT compared with 4.43 ± 3.14 mSv for CD-CT. Increasing the percentage ASiR resulted in a step-wise reduction in mean objective noise (p < 0.001 for all comparisons). Seventy % ASiR LD-CT images had higher diagnostic acceptability and spatial resolution than 90 % ASiR LD-CT images (p < 0.001). Twenty-seven calculi (diameter = 5.5 ± 1.7 mm), including all ureteric stones, were correctly identified using 70 % ASiR LD-CT with two false positives and 16 false negatives (diameter = 2.3 ± 0.7 mm) equating to a sensitivity and specificity of 72 % and 94 %. Seventy % ASiR LD-CT had a sensitivity and specificity of 87 % and 100 % for detection of calculi >3 mm.


Reconstruction of LD-CT images with 70 % ASiR resulted in superior image quality than FBP, 40 % ASIR and 90 % ASIR. LD-CT with ASIR demonstrates high sensitivity and specificity for detection of calculi >3 mm.


• Low-dose CT studies for urinary calculus detection were performed with a mean dose of 0.48 ± 0.07 mSv • Low-dose CT with 70 % ASiR detected calculi >3 mm with a sensitivity and specificity of 87 % and 100 % • Reconstruction with 70 % ASiR was superior to filtered back projection, 40 % ASiR and 90 % ASiR images.

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