Hardening the x-ray beam, tin prefiltration is established for imaging of high-contrast subjects in energy-integrating detector computed tomography (EID-CT). With this work, we aimed to investigate the dose-saving potential of spectral shaping via tin prefiltration in photon-counting detector CT (PCD-CT) of the temporal bone.
Deploying dose-matched scan protocols with and without tin prefiltration on a PCD-CT and EID-CT system (low-/intermediate-/full-dose: 4.8/7.6–7.7/27.0–27.1 mGy), 12 ultra-high-resolution examinations were performed on each of 5 cadaveric heads. While 120 kVp was applied for standard imaging, the protocols with spectral shaping used the highest potential available with tin prefiltration (EID-CT: Sn 150 kVp, PCD-CT: Sn 140 kVp). Contrast-to-noise ratios and dose-saving potential by spectral shaping were computed for each scanner. Three radiologists independently assessed the image quality of each examination with the intraclass correlation coefficient being computed to measure interrater agreement.
Regardless of tin prefiltration, PCD-CT with low (171.2 ± 10.3 HU) and intermediate radiation dose (134.7 ± 4.5 HU) provided less image noise than full-dose EID-CT (177.0 ± 14.2 HU; P < 0.001). Targeting matched image noise to 120 kVp EID-CT, mean dose reduction of 79.3% ± 3.9% could be realized in 120 kVp PCD-CT. Subjective image quality of PCD-CT was better than of EID-CT on each dose level (P < 0.050). While no distinction was found between dose-matched PCD-CT with and without tin prefiltration (P ≥ 0.928), Sn 150 kVp EID-CT provided better image quality than 120 kVp EID-CT at high and intermediate dose levels (P > 0.050). The majority of low-dose EID-CT examinations were considered not diagnostic, whereas PCD-CT scans of the same dose level received satisfactory or better ratings. Interrater reliability was excellent (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.903).
PCD-CT provides superior image quality and significant dose savings compared with EID-CT for ultra-high-resolution examinations of the temporal bone. Aiming for matched image noise, high-voltage scan protocols with tin prefiltration facilitate additional dose saving in EID-CT, whereas superior inherent denoising decreases the dose reduction potential of spectral shaping in PCD-CT.