, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 165-176

Techniques and parameters for estimating radiation exposure and dose in cardiac computed tomography

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With increasing clinical use of cardiac CT imaging it is important that all health care providers referring for or administering such examinations are familiar with the concepts and values of radiation dosimetry in CT as well as with the basic principles of radiation protection. There are important technical differences pertinent to radiation dose between the CT scanner types that are currently being used for imaging of the heart and coronary arteries. As a result of these differences, the radiation dose typically is higher when a cardiac examination is performed with multidetector-row CT (MDCT) than when it is performed with electron beam CT. Several techniques have been described to reduce radiation dose of MDCT imaging by varying the X-ray tube current during a CT examination. The volume computed tomographic dose index (CTDIvol), the dose length product (DLP), and the effective dose (E) are the most useful parameters to describe and compare radiation doses received from cardiac CT examinations. When comparing radiation doses between scanning protocols and scanner types, the degree of image noise must be considered. Diagnostic, rather than aesthetic, quality of images should be the most important factor guiding the development of scanning protocols for cardiac CT imaging. Cardiac CT examinations should be ordered only by qualified health care providers, and the ordering clinicians should be aware of their responsibility of weighing risks of the radiation exposure against the expected benefits.