Optimization of contrast material delivery for dual-energy computed tomography pulmonary angiography in patients with suspected pulmonary embolism.
ABSTRACT To prospectively compare subjective and objective measures of image quality using 4 different contrast material injection protocols in dual-energy computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) studies of patients with suspected pulmonary embolism.
A total of 100 consecutive patients referred for CTPA for the exclusion of pulmonary embolism were randomized into 1 of 4 contrast material injection protocols manipulating iodine concentration and iodine delivery rate (IDR, expressed as grams of iodine per second): Iomeprol 400 at 3 mL/s (IDR = 1.2 gI/s), iomeprol 400 at 4 mL/s (IDR = 1.6 gI/s), iomeprol 300 at 5.4 mL/s (IDR = 1.6 gI/s), or iomeprol 300 at 4 mL/s (IDR = 1.2 gI/s). Total iodine delivery was held constant. Dual-energy CTPA of the lungs were acquired and used to calculate virtual 120 kV CTPA images as well as iodine perfusion maps. Attenuation values in the thoracic vasculature and image quality of virtual 120 kV CTPAs were compared between groups. Iodine perfusion maps were also compared by identifying differences in the extent of beam-hardening artifacts and subjective image quality.
Protocols with an IDR of 1.6 gI/s provided the best attenuation profiles. CTPA image quality was greatest in the high concentration, high IDR (1.6 gI/s) protocol (P < 0.05 for all group comparisons) with no differences between the other groups (all P ≥ 0.05). Extent of beam-hardening artifacts and perfusion map image quality was significantly better using the high concentration, high IDR protocol as compared with all groups (P < 0.05 for all comparisons) and significantly worse using the low concentration, low IDR protocol as compared with all groups (all P ≥ 0.05); no difference was found between the high concentration, low IDR protocol and the low concentration, high IDR protocol (P = 0.73 for comparison of beam-hardening artifacts; P = 0.50 for comparison of perfusion map image quality).
High iodine concentration and high IDR contrast material delivery protocols provide the best image quality of both CTPA and perfusion map images of the lung through high attenuation in the pulmonary arteries and minimization of beam-hardening artifacts.