Background: The potential effects of ionizing radiation are of particular concern in children. The model-based iterative reconstruction VEO(TM) is a technique commercialized to improve image quality and reduce noise compared with the filtered back-projection (FBP) method.
Objective: To evaluate the potential of VEO(TM) on diagnostic image quality and dose reduction in pediatric chest CT examinations.
Materials and methods: Twenty children (mean 11.4 years) with cystic fibrosis underwent either a standard CT or a moderately reduced-dose CT plus a minimum-dose CT performed at 100 kVp. Reduced-dose CT examinations consisted of two consecutive acquisitions: one moderately reduced-dose CT with increased noise index (NI = 70) and one minimum-dose CT at CTDIvol 0.14 mGy. Standard CTs were reconstructed using the FBP method while low-dose CTs were reconstructed using FBP and VEO. Two senior radiologists evaluated diagnostic image quality independently by scoring anatomical structures using a four-point scale (1 = excellent, 2 = clear, 3 = diminished, 4 = non-diagnostic). Standard deviation (SD) and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) were also computed.
Results: At moderately reduced doses, VEO images had significantly lower SD (P < 0.001) and higher SNR (P < 0.05) in comparison to filtered back-projection images. Further improvements were obtained at minimum-dose CT. The best diagnostic image quality was obtained with VEO at minimum-dose CT for the small structures (subpleural vessels and lung fissures) (P < 0.001). The potential for dose reduction was dependent on the diagnostic task because of the modification of the image texture produced by this reconstruction.
Conclusions: At minimum-dose CT, VEO enables important dose reduction depending on the clinical indication and makes visible certain small structures that were not perceptible with filtered back-projection.