Embryo dose estimates in body CT

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2010 Apr;194(4):874-80. doi: 10.2214/AJR.09.4032.


Objective: The purpose of this article is to develop a method for estimating embryo doses in CT.

Materials and methods: Absorbed doses to the uterus (embryo) of a 70-kg woman were estimated using the ImPACT CT Patient Dosimetry Calculator. For a particular CT scan length, relative uterus doses and normalized plateau uterus doses were determined for a range of commercial CT scanners. Patient size characteristics were obtained from cross-sectional axial images of 100 consecutive patients (healthy women undergoing unenhanced pelvic CT examinations). For each patient, the diameter of a water cylinder with the same mass as the patient's pelvis was computed. Relative dose values were generated for cylinder diameters ranging from 16 to 36 cm at x-ray tube voltages between 80 and 140 kV.

Results: Values of relative uterus dose increased monotonically with increasing scan length, independently of scanner model, and reached a plateau for scan lengths greater than approximately 50 cm. The average normalized plateau uterus dose for all scanners was approximately 1.4 and showed interscanner differences of less than 10% for modern scanners operated at 120 kV. Normalized plateau doses show little dependence on the x-ray tube voltage used to perform the CT examination. Our results show that the uterus dose estimate in an abdominal or pelvis CT examination performed on a 70-kg patient is about 40% higher than the reported value of the volume CT dose index (CTDI(vol)). The pelvis of a 70-kg patient may be modeled as a water cylinder with a diameter of 28 cm and has an average anteroposterior dimension of 22 cm. For constant CT technique factors, embryo dose estimates for a 45-kg patient would be approximately 18% higher than those for a 70-kg patient, whereas the corresponding dose estimates in a 120-kg patient would be approximately 37% lower.

Conclusion: Embryo doses can be estimated using relative uterus doses, normalized plateau uterus doses, and CTDI(vol) data with correction factors for patient size.

MeSH terms

  • Body Size
  • Female
  • Fetus / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Radiation Protection
  • Radiometry / methods
  • Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Uterus / radiation effects*
  • Whole Body Imaging*