Objectives: To define optimal window settings for displaying virtual monoenergetic images (VMI) of dual-energy CT pulmonary angiography (DE-CTPA).
Methods: Forty-five patients who underwent clinically-indicated third-generation dual-source DE-CTPA were retrospectively evaluated. Standard linearly-blended (M_0.6), 70-keV traditional VMI (M70), and 40-keV noise-optimised VMI (M40+) reconstructions were analysed. For M70 and M40+ datasets, the subjectively best window setting (width and level, B-W/L) was independently determined by two observers and subsequently related with pulmonary artery attenuation to calculate separate optimised values (O-W/L) using linear regression. Subjective evaluation of image quality (IQ) between W/L settings were assessed by two additional readers. Repeated measures of variance were performed to compare W/L settings and IQ indices between M_0.6, M70, and M40+.
Results: B-W/L and O-W/L for M70 were 460/140 and 450/140, and were 1100/380 and 1070/380 for M40+, respectively, differing from standard DE-CTPA W/L settings (450/100). Highest subjective scores were observed for M40+ regarding vascular contrast, embolism demarcation, and overall IQ (all p<0.001).
Conclusions: Application of O-W/L settings is beneficial to optimise subjective IQ of VMI reconstructions of DE-CTPA. A width slightly less than two times the pulmonary trunk attenuation and a level approximately of overall pulmonary vessel attenuation are recommended.
Key points: • Application of standard window settings for VMI results in inferior image perception. • No significant differences between B-W/L and O-W/L for M70/M40+ were observed. • O-W/L for M70 were 450/140 and were 1070/380 for M40+. • Improved subjective IQ characteristics were observed for VMI displayed with O-W/L.
Keywords: Computed tomography pulmonary angiography; Dual-energy CT; Pulmonary embolism; Window level; Window width.