Recently, specific computed tomography (CT) scanners have been equipped with organ-based tube current modulation (TCM) technology. It is possible that organ-based TCM will replace the conventional dose-reduction technique of reducing the effective milliampere-second. The aim of this study was to determine if organ-based TCM could reduce radiation exposure to the breasts without compromising the image uniformity and beam hardening effect in thoracic CT examinations. Breast and skin radiation doses and the absorbed radiation dose distribution within a single section were measured with an anthropomorphic phantom and radiophotoluminescent glass dosimeters using four approaches to thoracic CT (reference, organ-based TCM, copper shielding, and the combination of the above two techniques, hereafter referred to as the combination technique). The CT value and noise level were measured using the same calibration phantom. Organ-based TCM and copper shielding reduced radiation doses to the breast by 23.7% and 21.8%, respectively. However, the CT value increased, especially in the anterior region, using copper shielding. In contrast, the CT value and noise level barely increased using organ-based TCM. The combination technique reduced the radiation dose to the breast by 38.2%, but greatly increased the absorbed radiation dose from the central to the posterior regions. Moreover, the CT value increased in the anterior region and the noise level increased by more than 10% in the entire region. Therefore, organ-based TCM can reduce radiation doses to breasts with only small increases in noise levels, making it preferable for specific groups of patients, such as children and young women.
PACS numbers: 87.53.Bn; 87.57.Q-; 87.57.qp