OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study is to determine the optimal energy level of virtual monochromatic images from spectral CT compared with conventional polychromatic images for reducing beam-hardening artifacts caused by contrast media in the thorax. MATERIALS AND METHODS. A total of 101 consecutive patients who underwent chest CT with contrast enhancement were retrospectively included in this study. The same contrast media and injection protocols were applied to the whole study population. Virtual monochromatic image datasets ranging from 70 to 200 keV and conventional polychromatic images were obtained. Readers’ subjective image quality scores were recorded for conventional polychromatic and virtual monochromatic images obtained at 70, 100, 130, and 200 keV. Image noise, CT attenuation difference, contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) were also obtained in each algorithm. Comparisons of parameters between algorithms were performed. RESULTS. The best subjective image quality score and significantly lower image noise were observed for 130-keV virtual monochromatic images compared with conventional polychromatic images (all p < 0.001). Also, CT attenuation differences were significantly lower for both 100- and 130-keV virtual monochromatic images than for conventional polychromatic images (all p < 0.001). Meanwhile, the lowest differences in CT attenuation were observed for 100-keV virtual monochromatic images compared with conventional polychromatic images. However, there were no significant differences in CT attenuation between 100- and 130-keV virtual monochromatic images. SNR was similar between 130-keV virtual monochromatic images and conventional polychromatic images, although both SNR and CNR decreased as the energy level increased. CONCLUSION. Virtual monochromatic imaging reduced beam-hardening artifacts and improved image quality, and optimal evaluation of chest CT was best achieved at 100 and 130 keV.
- Contrast media
- X-ray emission
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging