Recent work by Saito (2012) has demonstrated a simple conversion from energy-subtracted computed tomography (CT) values (ΔHU) obtained using dual-energy CT to relative electron density (RED) via a single linear relationship. The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of this method to obtain RED from virtual monochromatic CT images obtained by the gemstone spectral imaging (GSI) mode with fast-kVp switching.
A tissue characterization phantom with 13 inserts made of different materials was scanned using the GSI mode on a Discovery CT750 HD. Four sets of virtual monochromatic CT images (60, 77, 100 and 140 keV) were obtained from a single GSI acquisition. When we define Δ HU in terms of the weighting factor for the subtraction α, Δ HU ≡ (1 + α)H - αL (H and L represent the CT values for high and low energy respectively), the relationship between Δ HU and RED is approximated as a linear function, a × Δ HU/1000 + b (a, b = unity). We evaluated the agreement between the determined and nominal RED. We also have investigated reproducibility over short and long time periods.
For the 13 insert materials, the RED determined by monochromatic CT images agreed with the nominal values within 1.1% and the coefficient of determination for this calculation formula was greater than 0.999. The observed reproducibility (1 standard deviation) of calculation error was within 0.5% for all materials.
These findings indicate that virtual monochromatic CT scans at two different energies using GSI mode can provide an accurate method for estimating RED.