The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate the potential of low-peak kilovoltage (kVp) images acquired with dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) to improve aortic attenuation and reduce contrast agent utilization and (2) to evaluate the feasibility of material-specific DECT imaging for evaluating aortic disease.
Aortic imaging characteristics of 2 groups of patients examined with DECT were compared. In the first group, CT angiography (CTA) was performed in patients with known or suspected aortic disease (CTA group: n = 20, 100-150 mL of contrast at 4.5 mL/s). In the second group, reduced contrast volume CTA was performed in patients with "routine" indications (RC group: n = 20, 50-60 mL at 3 mL/s followed by a saline chaser). In both groups, aortic attenuation and SD were measured at 80 and 140 kVp, and the image quality was analyzed using a 5-point scale. The use of DECT postprocessing techniques for assessing aortic pathology was also evaluated.
For all patients, the aortic attenuation was significantly higher at 80 kVp than at 140 kVp (P < 0.001). Image noise measured quantitatively was higher at 80 kVp (P < 0.001) but did not affect the perceived image quality (P = 0.3). Using low-peak kilovoltage allowed aortic CTA to be performed with a markedly reduced contrast volume and flow rate, with image quality similar to standard CTA (P = 0.2). In a series of cases with proved aortic disease, comparison of true precontrast and subtraction "virtual noncontrast" images showed the potential to eliminate aortic precontrast imaging, reducing radiation exposure.
Single-acquisition DECT combines (1) the benefits of low-kVp vascular imaging (increased iodine conspicuity coupled with a contrast volume/rate reduction) and (2) the use of material-specific imaging techniques to uniquely characterize the aortic pathology.
From the *Division of Thoracic Imaging, Department of Radiology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY; †Department of Diagnostic Radiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; ‡Department of Radiology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and §Siemens Medical Solutions, Forchheim, Germany.
Received for publication December 2, 2009; accepted March 8, 2010.
Reprints: Myrna C.B. Godoy, MD, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Unit 371, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
This research was supported by a grant from Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.