Fifty-sixth annual meeting of the American association of physicists in medicine
TH-C-18A-06: Combined CT Image Quality and Radiation Dose Monitoring Program Based On Patient Data to Assess Consistency of Clinical Imaging Across Scanner Models
One of the principal challenges of clinical imaging is to achieve an ideal balance between image quality and radiation dose across multiple CT models. The number of scanners and protocols at large medical centers necessitates an automated quality assurance program to facilitate this objective. Therefore, the goal of this work was to implement an automated CT image quality and radiation dose monitoring program based on actual patient data and to use this program to assess consistency of protocols across CT scanner models.
Patient CT scans are routed to a HIPPA compliant quality assurance server. CTDI, extracted using optical character recognition, and patient size, measured from the localizers, are used to calculate SSDE. A previously validated noise measurement algorithm determines the noise in uniform areas of the image across the scanned anatomy to generate a global noise level (GNL). Using this program, 2358 abdominopelvic scans acquired on three commercial CT scanners were analyzed. Median SSDE and GNL were compared across scanner models and trends in SSDE and GNL with patient size were used to determine the impact of differing automatic exposure control (AEC) algorithms.
There was a significant difference in both SSDE and GNL across scanner models (9–33% and 15–35% for SSDE and GNL, respectively). Adjusting all protocols to achieve the same image noise would reduce patient dose by 27–45% depending on scanner model. Additionally, differences in AEC methodologies across vendors resulted in disparate relationships of SSDE and GNL with patient size.
The difference in noise across scanner models indicates that protocols are not optimally matched to achieve consistent image quality. Our results indicated substantial possibility for dose reduction while achieving more consistent image appearance. Finally, the difference in AEC methodologies suggests the need for size-specific CT protocols to minimize variability in image quality across CT vendors.