Technique factors and image quality as functions of patient weight at abdominal CT

Radiology. 2000 Nov;217(2):430-5. doi: 10.1148/radiology.217.2.r00nv35430.


Purpose: To investigate how changes in kilovolt peak and milliampere second settings, and patient weight affect transmitted x-ray energy fluence and the image contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) at abdominal computed tomography (CT).

Materials and methods: Cylinders of water were used as patient models, and x-ray spectra, including x-ray tube potentials of 80-140 kVp, were investigated. The mean photon energy and energy fluence transmitted through water cylinders with varying diameters and the image contrast for fat, muscle, bone, and iodine relative to water were determined. The effect of changing the x-ray tube potential on CNR also was investigated.

Results: At a constant kVp, increasing patient weight from 10 kg to 120 kg reduced the transmitted energy fluence by two orders of magnitude. Changing the x-ray tube potential from 80 kVp to 140 kVp increased the mean photon energy from approximately 52 keV to approximately 72 keV and thus reduced the image contrast relative to water by 12% for muscle, 21% for fat, 39% for bone, and 50% for iodine (approximate reduction values). Increasing the x-ray tube potential from 80 kVp to 140 kVp increased the CNR by a factor of 2.6 for muscle and by a factor of 1. 4 for iodine.

Conclusion: With changes in patient weight at abdominal CT, x-ray tube potentials must be varied to maintain a constant detector energy fluence. Increasing the x-ray tube potential generally improves CNR.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight*
  • Humans
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Photons
  • Radiography, Abdominal*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods
  • X-Rays