How Low Can We Go in Radiation Dose for the Data-Completion Scan on a Research Whole-Body Photon-Counting Computed Tomography System

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Abstract

Purpose

A research photon-counting computed tomography (CT) system that consists of an energy-integrating detector (EID) and a photon-counting detector (PCD) was installed in our laboratory. The scanning fields of view of the EID and PCD at the isocenter are 500 and 275 mm, respectively. When objects are larger than the PCD scanning field of view, a data-completion scan (DCS) using the EID subsystem is needed to avoid truncation artifacts in PCD images. The goals of this work were to (1) find the impact of a DCS on noise of PCD images and (2) determine the lowest possible dose for a DCS such that truncation artifacts are negligible in PCD images.

Methods

First, 2 semianthropomorphic abdomen phantoms were scanned on the PCD subsystem. For each PCD scan, we acquired 1 DCS with the maximum effective mAs and 5 with lower effective mAs values. The PCD image reconstructed using the maximum effective mAs was considered as the reference image, and those using the lower effective mAs as the test images. The PCD image reconstructed without a DCS was considered the baseline image. Each PCD image was assessed in terms of noise and CT number uniformity; the results were compared among the baseline, test, and reference images. Finally, the impact of a DCS on PCD image quality was qualitatively assessed for other body regions using an anthropomorphic torso phantom.

Results

The DCS had a negligible impact on the noise magnitude in the PCD images. The PCD images with the minimum available dose (CTDIvol < 2 mGy) showed greatly enhanced CT number uniformity compared with the baseline images without noticeable truncation artifacts. Further increasing the effective mAs of a DCS did not yield noticeable improvement in CT number uniformity.

Conclusions

A DCS using the minimum available dose had negligible effect on image noise and was sufficient to maintain satisfactory CT number uniformity for the PCD scans.

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