U.S. Diagnostic Reference Levels and Achievable Doses for 10 Adult CT Examinations

Radiology. 2017 Jul;284(1):120-133. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2017161911. Epub 2017 Feb 21.


Purpose To develop diagnostic reference levels (DRLs) and achievable doses (ADs) for the 10 most common adult computed tomographic (CT) examinations in the United States as a function of patient size by using the CT Dose Index Registry. Materials and Methods Data from the 10 most commonly performed adult CT head, neck, and body examinations from 583 facilities were analyzed. For head examinations, the lateral thickness was used as an indicator of patient size; for neck and body examinations, water-equivalent diameter was used. Data from 1 310 727 examinations (analyzed by using SAS 9.3) provided median values, as well as means and 25th and 75th (DRL) percentiles for volume CT dose index (CTDIvol), dose-length product (DLP), and size-specific dose estimate (SSDE). Applicable results were compared with DRLs from eight countries. Results More than 46% of the facilities were community hospitals; 13% were academic facilities. More than 48% were in metropolitan areas, 39% were suburban, and 13% were rural. More than 50% of the facilities performed fewer than 500 examinations per month. The abdomen and pelvis was the most frequently performed examination in the study (45%). For body examinations, DRLs (75th percentile) and ADs (median) for CTDIvol, SSDE, and DLP increased consistently with the patient's size (water-equivalent diameter). The relationships between patient size and DRLs and ADs were not as strong for head and neck examinations. These results agree well with the data from other countries. Conclusion DRLs and ADs as a function of patient size were developed for the 10 most common adult CT examinations performed in the United States. © RSNA, 2017.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Reference Values
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • United States


  • Contrast Media