Ureteral calculi detection using low dose computerized tomography protocols is compromised in overweight and underweight patients

J Urol. 2012 Jul;188(1):124-9. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.02.2568. Epub 2012 May 12.


Purpose: Low dose computerized tomography protocols have demonstrated a reduction in radiation exposure while maintaining excellent sensitivity and specificity in the detection of stones in patients of average size. Low dose computerized tomography protocols have not yet been evaluated in subjects in the extremes of weight. We evaluated the effect of body weight when using low dose protocols to detect ureteral calculi.

Materials and methods: Three cadavers of increasing weight (55, 85 and 115 kg) were prepared by inserting 721 calcium oxalate stones (range 3 to 7 mm) in 33 random configurations into urinary tracts. Cadavers were then scanned using a GE LightSpeed® at 7 radiation settings. An independent, blinded review by a radiologist was conducted to generate ROC curves, with areas under the curve compared using a 1-way ANOVA (α = 0.05).

Results: Sensitivity and specificity were significantly lower in the low and high weight cadavers compared to the medium weight cadaver at 5 mAs (p <0.001) and 7.5 mAs (p = 0.048). Differences in sensitivity and specificity at radiation settings of 15 mAs or greater were not significant.

Conclusions: The sensitivity and specificity for the detection of ureteral calculi on computerized tomography were decreased for underweight and overweight subjects when using extremely low dose radiation settings (less than 1 mSv). Low dose protocols of 15 mAs (2 mSv) can still be used for these subjects without jeopardizing the ability to identify ureteral stones.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Overweight / complications*
  • ROC Curve
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Thinness / complications*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ureteral Calculi / complications
  • Ureteral Calculi / diagnostic imaging*