Quantification accuracy for dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE) CT imaging: phantom and quality assurance framework

Eur J Radiol. 2018 Sep;106:192-198. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2018.08.003. Epub 2018 Aug 6.


Purpose: Standardization and protocol optimization is essential for quantification of Dynamic Contrast Enhanced CT as an imaging biomarker. Currently, no commercially available quality assurance (QA) phantoms can provide for testing a complete set of imaging parameters pertaining to routine quality control for contrast-enhanced (CE) CT, as well as spatiotemporal accuracy. The purpose of this work was, therefore: (a) developing a solid calibration phantom for routine CE CT quality assurance; (b) investigating the sensitivity of CECT to organ motion, and (c) characterizing a volumetric CT scanner for CECT.

Methods: CECT calibration phantom consisting of an acrylic uniform cylinder containing multiple capsules of varying diameters and orientations was designed and built. The capsules contain different solid density materials mimicking iodine contrast enhancement. Sensitivity and accuracy of CECT measurements on all capsules was performed using a 320-slice CT scanner for a range of scan parameters both with and without phantom motion along the transaxial axis of the scanner.

Results: Routine commissioning tests such as uniformity, spatial resolution and image noise were successfully determined using the CECT phantom. Partial volume effect and motion blurring both contribute to a general decrease in contrast enhancement and this was further dependent on capsule orientation (least pronounced for the transaxial orientation). Scanning with a rotation time of less than 0.5 s, the effect of blurring is less than 3% for all orientations and phantom speeds.

Conclusion: A new robust contrast calibration phantom was developed and used to evaluate the performance of a 320-slice volumetric CT scanner for DCE-CT.

Keywords: Biomarker; CT; DCE CT; Perfusion; Quality assurance; Quantitative imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media*
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Quality Control*
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards*


  • Contrast Media