The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether model-based iterative reconstruction (MBIR) enables dose reduction over adaptive iterative reconstruction (ASIR) while maintaining diagnostic performance.
In this institutional review board–approved and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act–compliant study, 59 patients (mean [SD] age, 64.7 [13.4] years) gave informed consent to undergo reference-, low-, and ultralow-dose chest computed tomography (CT) with 64-row multidetector CT. The reference- and low-dose CT involved the use of automatic tube current modulation with fixed noise indices (31.5 and 70.44 at 0.625 mm, respectively) and were reconstructed with 50% ASIR-filtered back projection blending. The ultralow-dose CT was acquired with a fixed tube current-time product of 5 mA s and reconstructed with MBIR. Two radiologists evaluated 2.5- and 0.625-mm-slice–thick axial images from low-dose ASIR and ultralow-dose MBIR, recorded the pattern of each nodule candidate, and assigned each a confidence score. A reference standard was established by a consensus panel of 2 different radiologists, who identified 84 noncalcified nodules with diameters of 4 mm or greater on reference-dose ASIR (ground-glass opacity, n = 18; partly solid, n = 11; solid, n = 55). Sensitivity in nodule detection was assessed using the McNemar test. Jackknife alternative free-response receiver operating characteristic (JAFROC) analysis was applied to assess the results including confidence scores.
Compared with the low-dose CT, a 78.1% decrease in dose-length product was seen with the ultralow-dose CT. No significant differences were observed between the low-dose ASIR and the ultralow-dose MBIR for overall nodule detection in sensitivity (P = 0.48–0.69) or the JAFROC analysis (P = 0.57). Likewise, no significant differences were seen for ground-glass opacity, partly solid, or solid nodule detection in sensitivity (P = 0.08–0.65) or the JAFROC analysis (P = 0.21–0.90).
Model-based iterative reconstruction enables nearly an 80% reduction in radiation dose for chest CT from a low-dose level to an ultralow-dose level, without affecting nodule detectability.