To investigate whether the low-tube-voltage (80-kVp), intermediate-tube-current (340-mAs) MDCT using the Iterative Reconstruction in Image Space (IRIS) algorithm improves lesion-to-liver contrast at reduced radiation dosage while maintaining acceptable image noise in the detection of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) in thin (mean body mass index, 24 ± 0.4 kg/m2) adults.
Subjects and Methods
A phantom simulating the liver with HCC was scanned at 50-400 mAs for 80, 100, 120 and 140-kVp. In addition, fifty patients with HCC who underwent multiphasic liver CT using dual-energy (80-kVp and 140-kVp) arterial scans were enrolled. Virtual 120-kVP scans (protocol A) and 80-kVp scans (protocol B) of the late arterial phase were reconstructed with filtered back-projection (FBP), while corresponding 80-kVp scans were reconstructed with IRIS (protocol C). Contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) of HCCs and abdominal organs were assessed quantitatively, whereas lesion conspicuity, image noise, and overall image quality were assessed qualitatively.
IRIS effectively reduced image noise, and yielded 29% higher CNR than the FBP at equivalent tube voltage and current in the phantom study. In the quantitative patient study, protocol C helped improve CNR by 51% and 172% than protocols A and B (p < 0.001), respectively, at equivalent radiation dosage. In the qualitative study, protocol C acquired the highest score for lesion conspicuity albeit with an inferior score to protocol A for overall image quality (p < 0.001). Mean effective dose was 2.63-mSv with protocol A and 1.12-mSv with protocols B and C.
CT using the low-tube-voltage, intermediate-tube-current and IRIS help improve lesion-to-liver CNR of HCC in thin adults during the arterial phase at a lower radiation dose when compared with the standard technique using 120-kVp and FBP.