Purpose: To investigate image quality and vascular delineation of multi-detector row computed tomographic (CT) angiography at various kilovoltage settings.
Materials and methods: Thirty patients were investigated with a standardized CT protocol, with three groups of 10 consecutive patients examined at 80, 120, and 140 kV, respectively. Three blinded readers independently evaluated images and graded image quality parameters, diagnostic confidence, and vascular delineation of intracranial arteries and veins. Vascular CT attenuation values, CT dose indices, and dose length products were assessed quantitatively. For data analysis, a Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric rank F test was used to identify trends and variables that required modeling attention. A proportional odds multinomial regression model was then fit with generalized estimating equations to account for the correlated nature of the data.
Results: Image quality was rated higher with higher kilovoltage settings (P <.001). The severity of imaging artifacts was higher with lower kilovoltage settings (P <.001), while the subjectively rated vessel contrast was lower in the 80-kV group than in the 120-kV group and the 140-kV group (P <.05). Diagnostic confidence was higher in the 120-kV group and 140-kV group (P <.005). Vascular delineation was higher with higher kilovoltage settings for most arterial and venous structures. Differences were more significant for structures in close topographic proximity to bone and for subsegmental arteries and were less significant and, in parts, not significant for the main arterial branches and the large venous sinus. Attenuation values were higher with lower kilovoltage settings (P <.05). The mean dose length product could be reduced from 594 mGy. cm in the 140-kV group to 152 mGy.cm in the 80-kV group.
Conclusion: This multireader study of image quality and vessel delineation with cranial multi-detector row CT angiography at various kilovoltage settings demonstrated a superiority of higher voltages with most pronounced effects for vessels adjacent to bone and subsegmental arteries.