Evaluation of High-Pitch Ungated Pediatric Cardiovascular Computed Tomography for the Assessment of Cardiac Structures in Neonates

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Abstract

Purpose:

We evaluated a high-pitch, non–electrocardiogram-gated cardiac computed tomographic protocol, designed to image both cardiac and extracardiac structures, including coronary arteries, in a neonatal population (less than 1 year old) that was referred for congenital heart disease assessment and compared it with an optimized standard-pitch protocol in an equivalent cohort.

Materials and Methods:

Twenty-nine high-pitch scans were compared with 31 age-matched, sex-matched, and weight-matched standard-pitch, dosimetrically equivalent scans. The visualization and subjective quality of both cardiac and extracardiac structures were scored by consensus between 2 trained blinded observers. Image noise, signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios, and radiation doses were also compared.

Results:

The high-pitch protocol better demonstrated the pulmonary veins (P=0.03) and all coronary segments (all P<0.05), except the distal right coronary artery (P=0.10), with no significant difference in the visualization of the remaining cardiac or extracardiac structures. Both contrast-to-noise and signal-to-noise ratios improved due to greater vessel opacity, with significantly fewer streak (P<0.01) and motion (P<0.01) artifacts. Image noise and computed tomographic dose index were comparable across the 2 techniques; however, the high-pitch acquisition resulted in a small, but statistically significant, increase in dose-length product [13.0 mGy.cm (9.0 to 17.3) vs. 11.0 mGy.cm (9.0 to 13.0), P=0.05] due to greater z-overscanning.

Conclusions:

In neonates, a high-pitch protocol improves coronary artery and pulmonary vein delineation compared with the standard-pitch protocol, allowing a more comprehensive assessment of cardiovascular anatomy while obviating the need for either patient sedation or heart rate control.

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