Tin-filtered low-dose chest CT to quantify macroscopic calcification burden of the thoracic aorta.
OBJECTIVES: To compare a low-dose, tin-filtered, nonenhanced, high-pitch Sn100 kVp CT protocol (Sn100) with a standard protocol (STP) for the detection of calcifications in the ascending aorta in patients scheduled for cardiac surgery. METHODS: Institutional Review Board approval for this retrospective study was waived and the study was HIPAA-compliant. The study included 192 patients (128 men; age 68.8 ± 9.9 years), of whom 87 received the STP and 105 the Sn100 protocol. Size-specific dose estimates (SSDE) and radiation doses were obtained using dose monitoring software. Two blinded readers evaluated image quality on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high) and the extent of calcifications of the ascending aorta on a scale from 0 (none) to 10 (high), subdivided into 12 anatomic segments. RESULTS: The Sn100 protocol achieved a mean SSDE of only 0.5 ± 0.1 mGy and 0.20 ± 0.04 mSv compared with the mean SSDE of 5.4 ± 2.2 mGy achieved with the STP protocol (p < 0.0001). Calcification burden was associated with age (p < 0.0001), but was independent of protocol with mean calcification scores of 0.48 ± 1.23 (STP) and 0.55 ± 1.25 (Sn100, p = 0.18). Reader agreement was very good (STP κ = 0.87 ± 0.02, Sn100 κ = 0.88 ± 0.01). The STP protocol provided a higher subjective image quality than the Sn100 protocol: STP median 4, interquartile range 4-5, vs. SN100 3, 3-4; p < 0.0001) and a slightly better depiction of calcification (STP 5, 4-5, vs. Sn100 4, 4-5; p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: The optimized Sn100 protocol achieved a mean SSDE of only 0.5 ± 0.1 mGy while the depiction of calcifications remained good, and there was no systematic difference in calcification burden between the two protocols. KEY POINTS: • Tin-filtered, low-dose CT can be used to assess aortic calcifications before cardiac surgery • An optimized Sn100 protocol achieved a mean SSDE of only 0.5 ± 0.1 mGy • The depiction of atherosclerosis of the thoracic aorta was similar with both protocols • The depiction of relevant thoracic pathologies before cardiac surgery was similar with both protocols.
Schabel, C; Marin, D; Ketelsen, D; Farjat, AE; Bier, G; Lescan, M; Bamberg, F; Nikolaou, K; Bongers, MN
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