Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess whether radiation dose savings using a lower peak kilovoltage (kVp) setting, bismuth breast shields, and automatic tube current modulation could be achieved while preserving the image quality of MDCT scans obtained to assess for pulmonary embolus (PE).
Materials and methods: CT angiography (CTA) examinations were performed to assess for the presence or absence of pulmonary artery emboli using a 64-MDCT scanner with automatic tube current modulation (noise level=10 HU), two kVp settings (120 and 140 kVp), and bismuth breast shields. Absorbed organ doses were measured using anthropomorphic phantoms and metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) detectors. Image quality was assessed quantitatively as well as qualitatively in various anatomic sites of the thorax.
Results: Using a lower kVp (120 vs 140 kVp) and automatic tube current modulation resulted in a dose savings of 27% to the breast and 47% to the lungs. The use of a lower kVp (120 kVp), automatic tube current modulation, and bismuth shields placed directly on the anterior chest wall reduced absorbed breast and lung doses by 55% and 45%, respectively. Qualitative assessment of the images showed no change in image quality of the lungs and mediastinum when using a lower kVp, bismuth shields, or both.
Conclusion: The use of bismuth breast shields together with a lower kVp and automatic tube current modulation will reduce the absorbed radiation dose to the breast and lungs without degradation of image quality to the organs of the thorax for CTA detection of PE.