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Pediatr Radiol. 2014 Oct;44 Suppl 3:501-5. doi: 10.1007/s00247-014-3077-y. Epub 2014 Oct 11.

Optimizing CT radiation dose based on patient size and image quality: the size-specific dose estimate method.

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Department of Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA, 94305-5105, USA,


The principle of ALARA (dose as low as reasonably achievable) calls for dose optimization rather than dose reduction, per se. Optimization of CT radiation dose is accomplished by producing images of acceptable diagnostic image quality using the lowest dose method available. Because it is image quality that constrains the dose, CT dose optimization is primarily a problem of image quality rather than radiation dose. Therefore, the primary focus in CT radiation dose optimization should be on image quality. However, no reliable direct measure of image quality has been developed for routine clinical practice. Until such measures become available, size-specific dose estimates (SSDE) can be used as a reasonable image-quality estimate. The SSDE method of radiation dose optimization for CT abdomen and pelvis consists of plotting SSDE for a sample of examinations as a function of patient size, establishing an SSDE threshold curve based on radiologists' assessment of image quality, and modifying protocols to consistently produce doses that are slightly above the threshold SSDE curve. Challenges in operationalizing CT radiation dose optimization include data gathering and monitoring, managing the complexities of the numerous protocols, scanners and operators, and understanding the relationship of the automated tube current modulation (ATCM) parameters to image quality. Because CT manufacturers currently maintain their ATCM algorithms as secret for proprietary reasons, prospective modeling of SSDE for patient populations is not possible without reverse engineering the ATCM algorithm and, hence, optimization by this method requires a trial-and-error approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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