Diagnostic imaging (ionizing and non-ionizing)
Technical Note: Evaluation of a 160-mm/256-row CT scanner for whole-heart quantitative myocardial perfusion imaging
The authors investigated the performance of a recently introduced 160-mm/256-row CT system for low dose quantitative myocardial perfusion (MP) imaging of the whole heart. This platform is equipped with a gantry capable of rotating at 280 ms per full cycle, a second generation of adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASiR-V) to correct for image noise arising from low tube voltage potential/tube current dynamic scanning, and image reconstruction algorithms to tackle beam-hardening, cone-beam, and partial-scan effects.
Phantom studies were performed to investigate the effectiveness of image noise and artifact reduction with a GE Healthcare Revolution CT system for three acquisition protocols used in quantitative CT MP imaging: 100, 120, and 140 kVp/25 mAs. The heart chambers of an anthropomorphic chest phantom were filled with iodinated contrast solution at different concentrations (contrast levels) to simulate the circulation of contrast through the heart in quantitative CT MP imaging. To evaluate beam-hardening correction, the phantom was scanned at each contrast level to measure the changes in CT number (in Hounsfield unit or HU) in the water-filled region surrounding the heart chambers with respect to baseline. To evaluate cone-beam artifact correction, differences in mean water HU between the central and peripheral slices were compared. Partial-scan artifact correction was evaluated from the fluctuation of mean water HU in successive partial scans. To evaluate image noise reduction, a small hollow region adjacent to the heart chambers was filled with diluted contrast, and contrast-to-noise ratio in the region before and after noise correction with ASiR-V was compared. The quality of MP maps acquired with the CT system was also evaluated in porcine CT MP studies. Myocardial infarct was induced in a farm pig from a transient occlusion of the distal left anterior descending (LAD) artery with a catheter-based interventional procedure. MP maps were generated from the dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) heart images taken at baseline and three weeks after the ischemic insult.
Their results showed that the phantom and animal images acquired with the CT platform were minimally affected by image noise and artifacts. For the beam-hardening phantom study, changes in water HU in the wall surrounding the heart chambers greatly reduced from >±30 to ≤ ± 5 HU at all kVp settings except one region at 100 kVp (7 HU). For the cone-beam phantom study, differences in mean water HU from the central slice were less than 5 HU at two peripheral slices with each 4 cm away from the central slice. These findings were reproducible in the pig DCE images at two peripheral slices that were 6 cm away from the central slice. For the partial-scan phantom study, standard deviations of the mean water HU in 10 successive partial scans were less than 5 HU at the central slice. Similar observations were made in the pig DCE images at two peripheral slices with each 6 cm away from the central slice. For the image noise phantom study, CNRs in the ASiR-V images were statistically higher (p < 0.05) than the non-ASiR-V images at all kVp settings. MP maps generated from the porcine DCE images were in excellent quality, with the ischemia in the LAD territory clearly seen in the three orthogonal views.
The study demonstrates that this CT system can provide accurate and reproducible CT numbers during cardiac gated acquisitions across a wide axial field of view. This CT number fidelity will enable this imaging tool to assess contrast enhancement, potentially providing valuable added information beyond anatomic evaluation of coronary stenoses. Furthermore, their results collectively suggested that the 100 kVp/25 mAs protocol run on this CT system provides sufficient image accuracy at a low radiation dose (<3 mSv) for whole-heart quantitative CT MP imaging.