Reduction of dose to the female breast in thoracic CT: a comparison of standard-protocol, bismuth-shielded, partial and tube-current-modulated CT examinations

Eur Radiol. 2008 Aug;18(8):1674-82. doi: 10.1007/s00330-008-0934-9. Epub 2008 Apr 15.


We evaluated the potential for reduction of dose to the female breast in computed tomography (CT) of the thorax by using three different techniques: bismuth shielding, partial CT scanning and tube-current modulation (TCM). Measurements and simulations of dose and image quality were performed for a 64-slice CT system using a semi-anthropomorphic thorax phantom with breasts added. Three-dimensional dose distributions were calculated by Monte Carlo (MC) methods. Noise was determined by measurements and simulations. Bismuth shielding resulted in a dose reduction of about 50% for the breast, noise increased up to 40% and image quality was impaired by artifacts. In partial CT scans, not irradiating the breasts directly, dose to the breasts was reduced typically by 50%. To sustain a constant noise level, an increase of irradiation in the anteroposterior position resulted in a higher dose to the spine. Reduction of dose to the breasts of about 10% was achieved with TCM; distribution of noise was homogeneous and image quality uniform. Reduction of dose to the female breast was achieved by using all adapted CT methods. Bismuth shielding may compromise image quality, increase noise level and introduce streak artifacts. Partial and TCM examinations reduced dose to the breast without influencing image quality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bismuth*
  • Humans
  • Mammography / instrumentation*
  • Mammography / methods
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control
  • Radiation Protection / instrumentation*
  • Radiation Protection / methods
  • Radiography, Thoracic / instrumentation*
  • Radiography, Thoracic / methods
  • Relative Biological Effectiveness*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods


  • Bismuth