The aim of this study was to investigate the image quality, radiation dose, and accuracy of virtual noncontrast images and iodine quantification of split-filter dual-energy computed tomography (CT) using a single x-ray source in a phantom and patient study.
Materials and Methods
In a phantom study, objective image quality and accuracy of iodine quantification were evaluated for the split-filter dual-energy mode using a tin and gold filter. In a patient study, objective image quality and radiation dose were compared in thoracoabdominal CT of 50 patients between the standard single-energy and split-filter dual-energy mode. The radiation dose was estimated by size-specific dose estimate. To evaluate the accuracy of virtual noncontrast imaging, attenuation measurements in the liver, spleen, and muscle were compared between a true noncontrast premonitoring scan and the virtual noncontrast images of the dual-energy scans. Descriptive statistics and the Mann-Whitney U test were used.
In the phantom study, differences between the real and measured iodine concentration ranged from 2.2% to 21.4%. In the patient study, the single-energy and dual-energy protocols resulted in similar image noise (7.4 vs 7.1 HU, respectively; P = 0.43) and parenchymal contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) values for the liver (29.2 vs 28.5, respectively; P = 0.88). However, the vascular CNR value for the single-energy protocol was significantly higher than for the dual-energy protocol (10.0 vs 7.1, respectively; P = 0.006). The difference in the measured attenuation between the true and the virtual noncontrast images ranged from 3.1 to 6.7 HU. The size-specific dose estimate of the dual-energy protocol was, on average, 17% lower than that of the single-energy protocol (11.7 vs 9.7 mGy, respectively; P = 0.008).
Split-filter dual-energy compared with single-energy CT results in similar objective image noise in addition to dual-energy capabilities at 17% lower radiation dose. Because of beam hardening, split-filter dual-energy can lead to decreased CNR values of iodinated structures.