Digital Subtraction Myelography is Associated with Less Radiation Dose than CT-based Techniques

Clin Neuroradiol. 2021 Sep;31(3):627-631. doi: 10.1007/s00062-020-00942-x. Epub 2020 Aug 17.


Purpose: Both CT myelogram (CTM) and digital-subtraction myelogram (DSM) can be used to evaluate patients for possible cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks. DSM is a relatively new technique. No data exists on the radiation dose associated with this procedure, and how it compares with CTM.

Materials and methods: All patients who underwent DSM for spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH) refractory to blood patching from Dec 2016 - Sept 2019 were retrospectively assessed. DSM dose factors were then recorded (cumulative fluoroscopy time, total kerma area product (KAP, mGy.cm2), cumulative air kerma (mGy), as well as CTM dose factors (included CTDIvol (mGy) and dose-length product (DLP, These indices were then used to calculate the effective dose for both procedures using standardized conversion factors.

Results: 61 DSMs were performed in 42 patients, 33 of which also underwent CTM. The median effective dose was 6.6 mSv per DSM study (range: 1.2 - 17.7). On a per-patient basis (i.e. those patients who underwent more than one DSM (as the initial one was negative), the median total effective dose was 13 mSv for their total DSM imaging (range: 2.6 -31.7). For the CTM, the median effective dose was 19.7 mSv (range: 3.2 - 82.4 mSv).

Conclusion: The radiation dose with DSM appears to be significantly lower than that of CTM (p = 0.0005), when looking at CTM doses both from our institution and in the published literature.

Keywords: CT myelogram; Digital subtraction myelography; Intracranial hypotension; Myelogram; Radiation dose.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hypotension*
  • Myelography*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed