Objective: We summarize how virtual monochromatic images are synthesized from dual-energy CT using image-domain and projection-domain methods. The quality of virtual monochromatic images is compared with that of polychromatic single-energy images acquired at different tube potentials and the same radiation dose. Clinical applications of dual-energy CT-based virtual monochromatic imaging are reviewed, including beam-hardening correction, contrast and noise optimization, metal artifact reduction, and material differentiation.
Conclusion: Virtual monochromatic images synthesized from dual-energy CT data have the potential to reduce beam-hardening artifacts and to provide quantitative measurements. If there is no desire to obtain material-specific information or to correct for metal or beam-hardening artifacts from the dual-energy data, however, it is better to perform a conventional single-energy scan at the optimal tube potential.