Low-dose dual-source computed tomography (DSCT) protocols for the evaluation of lung diseases in children and adolescents are of importance since this age group is particularly prone to radiation damage. The aim of this study was to evaluate image quality of low-dose DSCT of the lung and to assess the potential of radiation dose reduction compared to digital radiographs (DR). Three groups, each consisting of 19 patients, were examined with different DSCT protocols using tin prefiltration (Sn96/64/32 ref. mAs at 100 kV). Different strengths of iterative reconstruction were applied (ADMIRE 2/3/4). DSCT groups were compared to 19 matched patients examined with posterior-anterior DR. Diagnostic confidence, detectability of anatomical structures and small lung lesions were evaluated on a 4-point Likert scale (LS 1 = unacceptable, 4 = fully acceptable; a value ≥ 3 was considered acceptable). Effective dose (ED) was 31-/21-/9-fold higher in Sn96/Sn64/Sn32 compared to DR. Diagnostic confidence was sufficient in Sn96/Sn64 (LS 3.4/3.2), reduced in Sn32 (LS 2.7) and the worst in DR (LS 2.4). In DSCT, detectability of small anatomical structures was always superior to DR (p < 0.05). Mean lesion size ranged from 5.1-7 mm; detectability was acceptable in all DSCT groups (LS 3.0-3.4) and superior to DR (LS 1.9; p < 0.05). Substantial dose lowering in DSCT of the pediatric lung enables acceptable detectability of small lung lesions with a radiation dose being about 10-fold higher compared to DR.
Keywords: DSCT; low-dose; lung; pediatric; tin filtration.