CT dose reduction using prospectively triggered or fast-pitch spiral technique employed in cardiothoracic imaging (the CT dose study)

J Cardiovasc Comput Tomogr. 2014 May-Jun;8(3):205-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jcct.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 Apr 13.


Objectives: To establish current radiation dose levels with contemporary scanners capable of prospectively triggered or high-pitch spiral scan modes to previous generation scanners among patients evaluated for coronary artery disease, pulmonary embolism, aortic disease, and "triple rule out" in a large population of patients at multiple centers.

Background: Previous small-scale studies with carefully controlled scan protocols report that CT scanners that facilitate prospectively triggered scanning and provide high-pitch spiral CT scan modes drastically lower radiation doses. However, diagnostic reference levels should be selected by medical bodies on the basis of large surveys of representative sites and reviewed at appropriate time intervals.

Methods: Scan data including dose and image quality parameters were collected retrospectively from 64 slice scanners (control) and prospectively after sites installed 128-slice dual-source scanners with high-pitch capability (study). Protocol selection was purposely not specified to survey "real world" results. Blinded quantitative image analysis was performed on every fifth scan.

Results: From April 2011 to March 2012, 2085 patients at 9 sites completed the study: 1051 coronary artery disease (509 control, 542 study), 528 pulmonary embolism (267 control, 261 study), 419 aortic disease (268 control, 151 study), and 87 triple rule out (53 control, 34 study). There was a significant reduction in median dose-length product (DLP) from 669 mGy ∙ cm (interquartile range [IQR]: 419-1026 mGy ∙ cm) in the control group to 260 mGy ∙ cm (IQR: 159-441 mGy ∙ cm) in the study group, a reduction by 61% (P < .0001) and was lower in all categories. No significant differences were noted in image quality.

Conclusion: Use of advanced scanners facilitating prospectively triggered or high-pitch spiral scan modes results in marked dose reduction across a variety of cardiovascular studies, with no compromise in image quality. These findings may contribute to new target dose recommendations in societal guidelines.

Keywords: DLP; Dose recommendation; High-pitch; Prospective-triggered; Radiation dose reduction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / trends