Improved Opacification of a Suboptimally Enhanced Pulmonary Artery in Chest CT: Experience Using a Dual-Layer Detector Spectral CT.
AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2018 Apr;210(4):734-741. doi: 10.2214/AJR.17.18537. Epub 2018 Feb 15. Bae K1,2, Jeon KN1,2, Cho SB2, Park SE2, Moon JI2, Baek HJ1,2, Choi BH2.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of our study was to evaluate the quality of virtual monoenergetic imaging (VMI) from dual-layer detector spectral CT and the effect of virtual monoenergetic images obtained at low energies on the detection of pulmonary embolism (PE) in patients with a suboptimally enhanced pulmonary artery on chest CT.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Of 1552 consecutive chest CT examinations performed with dual-layer detector spectral CT using a routine protocol with a tube voltage of 120 kVp, 79 examinations with suboptimal enhancement of the pulmonary artery (i.e., mean attenuation of pulmonary artery ≤ 180 HU) were included. The mean attenuation of the pulmonary artery, noise, contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of virtual monoenergetic images obtained at 40-200 keV were compared with those of the conventional 120-kVp images. The virtual monoenergetic images with the best CNR were compared with the 120-kVp images with regard to subjective image quality and diagnostic accuracy for detecting PE.
RESULTS: Sufficient attenuation of the pulmonary artery (> 180 HU) was obtained using VMI for 78 of the 79 examinations. The noise levels of the virtual monoenergetic images were gradually increased with decreasing energy level (i.e., kiloelectron volt setting). The CNR and SNR of virtual monoenergetic images at 40-65 keV were significantly higher (both, p < 0.001) than the CNR and SNR of the 120-kVp images. The CNR was the highest at 40 keV for all cases. Diagnostic accuracy for detecting PE was significantly higher for 40-keV images (reader 1: AUC = 0.992, p = 0.033; reader 2: AUC = 0.986, p = 0.043) than for 120-kVp images (reader 1, AUC = 0.911; reader 2, AUC = 0.933). The subjective quality was not different between these two images.
CONCLUSION: In chest CT examinations in which the pulmonary artery is suboptimally enhanced, obtaining virtual monoenergetic images at a low energy setting using dual-layer detector spectral CT allows sufficient attenuation of the pulmonary artery to be achieved while preserving image quality and increasing diagnostic performance for detecting PE.