Using the K-edge to improve contrast conspicuity and to lower radiation dose with a 16-MDCT: A phantom and human study

Sanjeeva P. Kalva, Dushyant V. Sahani, Peter F. Hahn, Sanjay Saini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To study the effect of tube current (milliamperes; mA) and potential (peak kilovolt; kVp) on the attenuation values and contrast-to-noise ratios of iodine- and gadolinium-based contrast media (CM) for computed tomography angiography (CTA). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Phantom Study: A water-filled phantom with five 20-mL syringes filled with 1:20 dilution of 282, 300, 370, and 400 milligrams of iodine per milliliter concentration CM and gadopentetate dimeglumine (Magnevist, Berlex Laboratories, Wayne, NJ, 0.5 mol/L) was scanned with a 16-multidetector CT using 80, 100, 120, and 140 kVp and 500-millisecond gantry rotation time. The milliampere was either fixed at 100, 200, 300, and 380 or automatically adjusted with noise indices of 15, 20, and 25 or manually adjusted to maintain a constant image noise. The attenuation value (Hounsfield unit; HU) and its standard deviation of CM in each syringe and of the water phantom were obtained. Statistical analysis was performed to determine difference between attenuation values and contrast medium-to-water contrast-to-noise ratios at various kVp and mA selection. Human Study: Three groups of patients had CTA for abdominal aortic aneurysm with similar computed tomography parameters, varying only in kVp selection of either 100 (group A), 120 (group B), or 140 (group C). Another group (group D) had CTA at 100 kVp but with the CM volume reduced to 60%. The CTA studies were evaluated for the quality of axial and 3D images; attenuation values in the aorta, superior mesenteric artery, and iliac arteries; image noise; and scanner-estimated radiation dose. Statistical analysis was performed to determine the difference in image quality and radiation dose among the groups. RESULTS: Phantom Study: In comparison with 140 kVp, regardless of selected milliampere or noise indices, images acquired at 80, 100, and 120 kVp showed 90.8% to 94.2%, 47% to 49.7%, and 18.9% to 20.7% (P < 0.0001) increase in HU of iodine-based CM, respectively, and 62.9%, 39.6%, and 16.8% (P < 0.0001) increase in HU of gadolinium-based CM, respectively. Human Study: The axial images in all the groups were diagnostically acceptable. There was significantly inferior quality of axial images associated with greater image noise in group A and group D (P < 0.01) in comparison with group C, but there was no difference in the quality of 3D images among the 4 groups. In comparison with group C, there was significantly higher attenuation of the aorta, superior mesenteric artery, and iliac arteries in group A (P < 0.01), group B (P < 0.05), and group D (P < 0.01). The radiation dose (CT dose index volume) decreased to 12 ± 4 in groups A and D compared with 17 ± 4 in group B and 24 ± 5 in group C. CONCLUSIONS: Lower kVp increases the attenuation of iodinated and gadolinium CM. CTA of the abdominal aorta performed at low kVp results in higher attenuation in aorta with reduced radiation dose and without degrading the diagnostic image quality. The iodinated CM volume can be reduced by reducing kVp during CTA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-397
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of computer assisted tomography
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2006


  • CT angiography
  • CT technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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