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Br J Radiol. 1998 Jul;71(847):734-44.

Radiation dose and image quality in spiral computed tomography: multicentre evaluation at six institutions.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Klinikum Innenstadt, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the correlation of radiation dose with image quality in spiral CT. Seven clinical protocols were measured in six different radiological departments provided with four different types of high specification spiral CT scanners. Central and surface absorbed doses were measured in acrylic. The practical CT dose index (PCTDI) was calculated for seven clinical examination protocols and one standardized protocol using identical parameters on four different spiral CT scanners with a dedicated ionization chamber inserted into PMMA phantoms. For low contrast measurements, a cylindrical three-dimensional (3D) phantom (different sized spheres of defined contrast) was used. Image noise was measured with a cylindrical water phantom and high contrast resolution with a Perspex hole phantom. Image quality phantoms were scanned using the parameters of the clinical protocols. Images were randomized, blinded and read by six radiologists (one from each institution). PCTDI values for four different scanners varied up to a factor between 1.5 (centre) and 2.2 (surface) for the standardized protocol. A greater degree of variation was observed for seven clinical examination protocols of the six radiological departments. For example, PCTDI varied up to a factor between 1.7 (cerebrum protocol) and 8.3 (abdomen paediatric protocol). Low contrast resolution correlates closely with dose. An improvement in detection from 8 mm to 4 mm sized spheres needs approximately a ten-fold increase in dose. Noise shows a moderate correlation with PCTDI. High contrast resolution of clinical protocols is independent of PCTDI within a certain range. Differences in modern CT scanner technology seem to be of less importance for radiation exposure than selection of protocol parameters in different radiological institutes. Future discussion on guidelines regarding optimal (patient adapted) tube current for clinical protocols is desirable.

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