Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine with phantom and patient imaging the effect of an automatic patient-centering technique on the radiation dose associated with MDCT.
Subjects and methods: A 32-cm CT dose index (CTDI) phantom was scanned with 64-MDCT in three positions: gantry isocenter and 30 and 60 mm below the isocenter of the scanner gantry. In each position, surface, peripheral, and volume CTDIs were estimated with a standard 10-cm pencil ionization chamber. The institutional review board approved the study with 63 patients (36 men, 27 women; mean age, 51 years; age range, 22-83 years) undergoing chest (n = 18) or abdominal (n = 45) CT using the z-axis automatic exposure control technique. Each patient was positioned according to the region being scanned and then was centered in the gantry. Before scanning of a patient, automatic centering software was used to estimate patient off-centering and percentage of dose reduction with optimum recentering. Data were analyzed with linear correlation and the Student's t test.
Results: Peripheral and surface CTDIs increased approximately 12-18% with 30-mm off-center distance and 41-49% with 60-mm off-center distance. Approximately 95% (60/63) of patients were not positioned accurately in the gantry isocenter. The mean radiation dose saving with automatic centering of all patients was 13.0% +/- 0.9% (range, 2.6-29.9%). There was strong correlation between off-center distance and percentage of surface CTDI reduction with recentering of patients in the gantry isocenter (r2 = 0.85, p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Surfaces doses can be reduced if radiologic technologists can better center patients within the CT gantry. Automatic centering technique can help in optimum patient centering and result in as much as 30% reduction in surface dose.