Triphasic contrast bolus for whole-chest ECG-gated 64-MDCT of patients with nonspecific chest pain: evaluation of arterial enhancement and streak artifact.
ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of a triphasic contrast bolus for ECG-gated CT in the assessment of chest pain by measuring vascular luminal attenuation and determining the degree of contrast-related streak artifact.
We reviewed the images from 44 ECG-gated CT examinations performed with a coronary contrast bolus modified for imaging of the entire chest. Luminal attenuation achieved with the resulting triphasic bolus was measured at specified vascular locations in the right side of the heart, pulmonary arteries, coronary arteries, and thoracic aorta. The occurrence of contrast-related streak artifact was recorded, and artifact severity was scored on a subjective 4-point scale.
The mean attenuation values in the pulmonary arteries (345.3 +/- 136.7 HU), coronary arteries (340.8 +/- 82.5 HU), and thoracic aorta (386.4 +/- 67.2 HU) were above a diagnostic threshold of 200 HU. Although there was no significant difference between the mean arterial values, the right-heart attenuation (281.6 +/- 121.8 HU) was significantly lower than the attenuation in the other two locations. On a location basis, 92.2% of the 1,972 arterial measurements were above the 200-HU threshold. Streak artifacts were found in 21 examinations (47.7%), and none was scored as severe. Statistical analysis revealed that the occurrence of streak artifact increased with higher right-heart attenuation.
In this series, a triphasic contrast bolus for ECG-gated whole-chest CT consistently achieved arterial attenuation above a diagnostic threshold in the pulmonary arteries, coronary arteries, and aorta. Right-heart attenuation was simultaneously reduced, which is important for decreasing the prevalence and severity of streak artifacts.