Adult patient radiation doses from non-cardiac CT examinations: a review of published results

Br J Radiol. 2011 Apr;84(1000):293-303. doi: 10.1259/bjr/69070614. Epub 2011 Jan 25.


Objectives: CT is a valuable tool in diagnostic radiology but it is also associated with higher patient radiation doses compared with planar radiography. The aim of this article is to review patient dose for the most common types of CT examinations reported during the past 19 years.

Methods: Reported dosimetric quantities were compared with the European diagnostic reference levels (DRLs). Effective doses were assessed with respect to the publication year and scanner technology (i.e. single-slice vs multislice).

Results: Considerable variation of reported values among studies was attributed to variations in both examination protocol and scanner design. Median weighted CT dose index (CTDI(w)) and dose length product (DLP) are below the proposed DRLs; however, for individual studies the DRLs are exceeded. Median reported effective doses for the most frequent CT examinations were: head, 1.9 mSv (0.3-8.2 mSv); chest, 7.5 mSv (0.3-26.0 mSv); abdomen, 7.9 mSv (1.4-31.2 mSv); and pelvis, 7.6 mSv (2.5-36.5 mSv).

Conclusion: The introduction of mechanisms for dose reduction resulted in significantly lower patient effective doses for CT examinations of the head, chest and abdomen reported by studies published after 1995. Owing to the limited number of studies reporting patient doses for multislice CT examinations the statistical power to detect differences with single-slice scanners is not yet adequate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods