In AAPM Task Group 204, the size-specific dose estimate (SSDE) was developed by providing size adjustment factors which are applied to the Computed Tomography (CT) standardized dose metric, CTDIvol. However, that work focused on fixed tube current scans and did not specifically address tube current modulation (TCM) scans, which are currently the majority of clinical scans performed. The purpose of this study was to extend the SSDE concept to account for TCM by investigating the feasibility of using anatomic and organ specific regions of scanner output to improve accuracy of dose estimates.
Thirty-nine adult abdomen/pelvis and 32 chest scans from clinically indicated CT exams acquired on a multidetector CT using TCM were obtained with Institutional Review Board approval for generating voxelized models. Along with image data, raw projection data were obtained to extract TCM functions for use in Monte Carlo simulations. Patient size was calculated using the effective diameter described in TG 204. In addition, the scanner-reported CTDIvol (CTDIvol,global) was obtained for each patient, which is based on the average tube current across the entire scan. For the abdomen/pelvis scans, liver, spleen, and kidneys were manually segmented from the patient datasets; for the chest scans, lungs and for female models only, glandular breast tissue were segmented. For each patient organ doses were estimated using Monte Carlo Methods. To investigate the utility of regional measures of scanner output, regional and organ anatomic boundaries were identified from image data and used to calculate regional and organ-specific average tube current values. From these regional and organ-specific averages, CTDIvol values, referred to as regional and organ-specific CTDIvol, were calculated for each patient. Using an approach similar to TG 204, all CTDIvol values were used to normalize simulated organ doses; and the ability of each normalized dose to correlate with patient size was investigated.
For all five organs, the correlations with patient size increased when organ doses were normalized by regional and organ-specific CTDIvol values. For example, when estimating dose to the liver, CTDIvol,global yielded a R2 value of 0.26, which improved to 0.77 and 0.86, when using the regional and organ-specific CTDIvol for abdomen and liver, respectively. For breast dose, the global CTDIvol yielded a R2 value of 0.08, which improved to 0.58 and 0.83, when using the regional and organ-specific CTDIvol for chest and breasts, respectively. The R2 values also increased once the thoracic models were separated for the analysis into females and males, indicating differences between genders in this region not explained by a simple measure of effective diameter.
This work demonstrated the utility of regional and organ-specific CTDIvol as normalization factors when using TCM. It was demonstrated that CTDIvol,global is not an effective normalization factor in TCM exams where attenuation (and therefore tube current) varies considerably throughout the scan, such as abdomen/pelvis and even thorax. These exams can be more accurately assessed for dose using regional CTDIvol descriptors that account for local variations in scanner output present when TCM is employed.