Digital tomosynthesis is a new digital technique based on conventional X-ray tomography. It acquires multiple low-dose projections during a single sweep of the X-ray tube, which are reassembled to provide high-resolution slices at different depths. Suggested uses include visualisation of pulmonary nodules, mammography, angiography, dental imaging and delineation of fractures. This study aims to evaluate its potential role as part of an intravenous urogram (IVU) by assessing the diagnostic quality in imaging the kidneys in clinical practice.
100 renal units from consecutive traditional IVU studies were retrospectively compared with 101 renal units imaged using digital tomosynthesis. These were scored for visualisation of the renal outline and collecting system, presence of a renal cyst or mass and overall diagnostic quality. Radiation doses were calculated.
46.5% of traditional IVUs were found to be of diagnostic quality. The IVUs with digital tomosynthesis were of diagnostic quality in 95.5%. This represents a highly statistically significant difference (p<0.0001). There was also a statistically significant dose reduction, with a mean reduction of 56%, for the samples studied.
Digital tomosynthesis offers a significant increase in the percentage of diagnostic quality tests for assessing renal pathology, compared with traditional IVU, and significantly reduces radiation. It also offers considerable advantages in ease and speed of imaging. For these reasons, in any situation where IVU is still being used to assess the kidneys, digital tomosynthesis is likely to be of considerable benefit in improving diagnostic quality.