Dose reduction and compliance with pediatric CT protocols adapted to patient size, clinical indication, and number of prior studies

Radiology. 2009 Jul;252(1):200-8. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2521081554. Epub 2009 May 12.


Purpose: To assess compliance and resultant radiation dose reduction with new pediatric chest and abdominal computed tomographic (CT) protocols based on patient weight, clinical indication, number of prior CT studies, and automatic exposure control.

Materials and methods: The study was institutional review board approved and HIPAA compliant. Informed consent was waived. The new pediatric CT protocols, which were organized into six color zones based on clinical indications and number of prior CT examinations in a given patient, were retrospectively assessed. Scanning parameters were adjusted on the basis of patient weight. For gradual dose reduction, pediatric CT (n = 692) examinations were performed in three phases of incremental stepwise dose reduction during a 17-month period. There were 245 male patients and 193 female patients (mean age, 12.6 years). Two radiologists independently reviewed CT images for image quality. Data were analyzed by using multivariate analysis of variance.

Results: Compliance with the new protocols in the early stage of implementation (chest CT, 58.9%; abdominal CT, 65.2%) was lower than in the later stage (chest CT, 88%; abdominal CT, 82%) (P < .001). For chest CT, there was 52.6% (9.1 vs 19.2 mGy) to 85.4% (2.8 vs 19.2 mGy) dose reduction in the early stage of implementation and 73.5% (4.9 vs 18.5 mGy) to 83.2% (3.1 vs 18.5 mGy) dose reduction in the later stages compared with dose at noncompliant examinations (P < .001); there was no loss of clinically relevant image quality. For abdominal CT, there was 34.3% (9.0 vs 13.7 mGy) to 80.2% (2.7 vs 13.7 mGy) dose reduction in the early stage of implementation and 62.4% (6.5 vs 17.3) to 83.8% (2.8 vs 17.3 mGy) dose reduction in the later stage (P < .001).

Conclusion: Substantial dose reduction and high compliance can be obtained with pediatric CT protocols tailored to clinical indications, patient weight, and number of prior studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Burden*
  • Body Size
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiation Protection / methods*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data*