Optimization of Radiation Dose and Image Quality in Musculoskeletal CT: Emphasis on Iterative Reconstruction Techniques (Part 1)

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Computed tomography (CT) is a modality of choice for the study of the musculoskeletal system for various indications including the study of bone, calcifications, internal derangements of joints (with CT arthrography), as well as periprosthetic complications. However, CT remains intrinsically limited by the fact that it exposes patients to ionizing radiation. Scanning protocols need to be optimized to achieve diagnostic image quality at the lowest radiation dose possible. In this optimization process, the radiologist needs to be familiar with the parameters used to quantify radiation dose and image quality. CT imaging of the musculoskeletal system has certain specificities including the focus on high-contrast objects (i.e., in CT of bone or CT arthrography). These characteristics need to be taken into account when defining a strategy to optimize dose and when choosing the best combination of scanning parameters. In the first part of this review, we present the parameters used for the evaluation and quantification of radiation dose and image quality. In the second part, we discuss different strategies to optimize radiation dose and image quality at CT, with a focus on the musculoskeletal system and the use of novel iterative reconstruction techniques.

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