The aims of this study were to investigate the feasibility of using a universal abdominal acquisition protocol on a photon-counting detector computed tomography (PCD-CT) system and to compare its performance to that of single-energy (SE) and dual-energy (DE) CT using energy-integrating detectors (EIDs).
Iodine inserts of various concentrations and sizes were embedded into different sizes of adult abdominal phantoms. Phantoms were scanned on a research PCD-CT and a clinical EID-CT with SE and DE modes. Virtual monoenergetic images (VMIs) were generated from PCD-CT and DE mode of EID-CT. For each image type and phantom size, contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) was measured for each iodine insert and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) for iodine detectability was calculated using a channelized Hotelling observer. The optimal energy (in kiloelectrovolt) of VMIs was determined separately as the one with highest CNR and the one with the highest AUC. The PCD-CT VMIs at the optimal energy were then compared with DE VMIs and SE images in terms of CNR and AUC.
Virtual monoenergetic image at 50 keV had both the highest CNR and highest AUC for PCD-CT and DECT. For 1.0 mg I/mL iodine and 35 cm phantom, the CNRs of 50 keV VMIs from PCD-CT (2.01 ± 0.67) and DE (1.96 ± 0.52) were significantly higher (P < 0.001, Wilcoxon signed-rank test) than SE images (1.11 ± 0.35). The AUC of PCD-CT (0.98 ± 0.01) was comparable to SE (0.98 ± 0.01), and both were slightly lower than DE (0.99 ± 0.01, P < 0.01, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). A similar trend was observed for other phantom sizes and iodine concentrations.
Virtual monoenergetic images at a fixed energy from a universal acquisition protocol on PCD-CT demonstrated higher iodine CNR and comparable iodine detectability than SECT images, and similar performance compared with DE VMIs.