Blankstein, R., Bolen, M.A., Pale, R. et al. Int J Cardiovasc Imaging (2011) 27: 579. doi:10.1007/s10554-010-9683-3
To evaluate the effective radiation dose and image quality resulting from use of 100 vs. 120 kV among patients referred for cardiac dual source CT exam (DSCT). Prospective data was collected on 294 consecutive patients referred for DSCT. For each scan, a physician specializing in cardiac CT chose all parameters including tube current and voltage, axial versus helical acquisition, and use of tube current modulation. Lower tube voltage was selected for thinner patients or when lower radiation was desired for younger patients, particularly females. For each study, image quality (IQ) was rated on a subjective IQ score and contrast (CNR) and signal-to-noise (SNR) ratios were calculated. Tube voltage of 100 kV was used for 77 (26%) exams while 120 kV was used for 217 (74%) exams. Use of 100 kV was more common in thinner patients (weight 166lbs vs. 199lbs, P < .001). The effective radiation dose for the 100 and 120 kV scans was 8.5 and 15.4 mSv respectively. Among scans utilizing 100 and 120 kV, there was no difference in exam indication, use of beta blockers, heart rate, scan length and use of radiation saving techniques such as prospective ECG triggering and tube current modulation. The IQ score was significantly higher for 100 kV scans. While 100 kV scans were found to have higher image noise then those utilizing 120 kV, the contrast-to-noise and signal-to-noise were significantly higher (SNR: 9.4 vs. 8.3, P = .02; CNR: 6.9 vs. 6.0, P = .02). In selected non-obese patients, use of low kV results in a substantial reduction of radiation dose and may result in improved image quality. These results suggest that low kV should be used more frequently in non-obese patients.