The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a significant effect, independent of patient size, of patient vertical centering on the current-modulated CT scanner radiation output in adult abdominopelvic CT. A phantom was used to evaluate calculation of vertical positioning and effective diameter at five different table heights. In addition, 656 consecutive contrast-enhanced abdominopelvic scans using the same protocol and automatic tube current modulation settings on a Philips Brilliance 64 MDCT scanner were retrospectively evaluated. The vertical position of the patient center of mass and the average effective diameter of the scanned patient were computed using the reconstructed images. The average volume CT dose index (CTDIvol) for each scan was recorded. The mean patient center of mass y coordinate ranged from -3.7 to 6.7 cm (mean ± SD, 2.8 ± 1.2 cm), indicating that patients were on average positioned slightly below the scanner isocenter. There was a slight tendency for smaller patients to be mis-centered lower than larger patients. Average CTDIvol closely fit a quadratic regression curve with respect to mean effective diameter. However, the value of the regression coefficient relating CTDIvol to the patient's vertical position was nearly zero, indicating only a very slight increase in CTDIvol with patient mis-centering for the scanner used in this study. The techniques used here may be useful both for automated evaluation of proper patient positioning in CT and for estimating the radiation dose effects of patient mis-centering for any CT scanner.
Keywords: Body imaging; Computed tomography; Image analysis; Quality control; Radiation dose.