Implementation and evaluation of a protocol management system for automated review of CT protocols

Joshua Grimes, Shuai Leng, Yi Zhang, Thomas Vrieze, Cynthia H McCollough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Protocol review is important to decrease the risk of patient injury and increase the consistency of CT image quality. A large volume of CT protocols makes manual review labor-intensive, error-prone, and costly. To address these challenges, we have developed a software system for automatically managing and monitoring CT protocols on a frequent basis. This article describes our experiences in the implementation and evaluation of this protocol monitoring system. In particular, we discuss various strategies for addressing each of the steps in our protocol-monitoring workflow, which are: maintaining an accurate set of master protocols, retrieving protocols from the scanners, comparing scanner protocols to master protocols, reviewing flagged differences between the scanner and master protocols, and updating the scanner and/or master protocols. In our initial evaluation focusing only on abdomen and pelvis protocols, we detected 309 modified protocols in a 24-week trial period. About one-quarter of these modified protocols were determined to contain inappropriate (i.e., erroneous) protocol parameter modifications that needed to be corrected on the scanner. The most frequently affected parameter was the series description, which was inappropriately modified 47 times. Two inappropriate modifications were made to the tube current, which is particularly important to flag as this parameter impacts both radiation dose and image quality. The CT protocol changes detected in this work provide strong motivation for the use of an automated CT protocol quality control system to ensure protocol accuracy and consistency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-533
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016



  • Computed tomography
  • Protocol management
  • Protocol monitoring
  • Radiation safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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