Subtraction computed tomography (SCT) is a technique that uses software-based motion correction between an unenhanced and an enhanced CT scan for obtaining the iodine distribution in the pulmonary parenchyma. This technique has been implemented in clinical practice for the evaluation of lung perfusion in CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) in patients with suspicion of acute and chronic pulmonary embolism, with acceptable radiation dose. This paper discusses the technical principles, clinical interpretation, benefits and limitations of arterial subtraction CTPA. KEY POINTS: • SCT uses motion correction and image subtraction between an unenhanced and an enhanced CT scan to obtain iodine distribution in the pulmonary parenchyma. • SCT could have an added value in detection of pulmonary embolism. • SCT requires only software implementation, making it potentially more widely available for patient care than dual-energy CT.
Keywords: Computed tomography scanner; Contrast media; Perfusion imaging; Pulmonary embolism; Subtraction technique.