Background: Medical professionals need to exercise particular caution when developing CT scanning protocols for children who require multiple CT studies, such as those with craniosynostosis.
Objective: To evaluate the utility of ultra-low-dose CT protocols with model-based iterative reconstruction techniques for craniosynostosis imaging.
Materials and methods: We scanned two pediatric anthropomorphic phantoms with a 64-slice CT scanner using different low-dose protocols for craniosynostosis. We measured organ doses in the head region with metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) dosimeters. Numerical simulations served to estimate organ and effective doses. We objectively and subjectively evaluated the quality of images produced by adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASiR) 30%, ASiR 50% and Veo (all by GE Healthcare, Waukesha, WI). Image noise and contrast were determined for different tissues.
Results: Mean organ dose with the newborn phantom was decreased up to 83% compared to the routine protocol when using ultra-low-dose scanning settings. Similarly, for the 5-year phantom the greatest radiation dose reduction was 88%. The numerical simulations supported the findings with MOSFET measurements. The image quality remained adequate with Veo reconstruction, even at the lowest dose level.
Conclusion: Craniosynostosis CT with model-based iterative reconstruction could be performed with a 20-μSv effective dose, corresponding to the radiation exposure of plain skull radiography, without compromising required image quality.