Purpose: Single-energy low tube potential (SE-LTP) and dual-energy virtual monoenergetic (DE-VM) CT images both increase the conspicuity of hepatic lesions by increasing iodine signal. Our purpose was to compare the conspicuity of proven liver lesions, artifacts, and radiologist preferences in dose-matched SE-LTP and DE-VM images. Methods: Thirty-one patients with 72 proven liver lesions (21 benign, 51 malignant) underwent full-dose contrast-enhanced dual-energy CT (DECT). Half-dose images were obtained using single tube reconstruction of the dual-source SE-LTP projection data (80 or 100 kV), and by inserting noise into dual-energy projection data, with DE-VM images reconstructed from 40 to 70 keV. Three blinded gastrointestinal radiologists evaluated half-dose SE-LTP and DE-VM images, ranking and grading liver lesion conspicuity and diagnostic confidence (4-point scale) on a per-lesion basis. Image quality (noise, artifacts, sharpness) was evaluated, and overall image preference was ranked on per-patient basis. Lesion-to-liver contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) was compared between techniques. Results: Mean lesion size was 1.5 ± 1.2 cm. Across the readers, the mean conspicuity ratings for 40, 45, and 50 keV half-dose DE-VM images were superior compared to other half-dose image sets (p < 0.0001). Per-lesion diagnostic confidence was similar between half-dose SE-LTP compared to half-dose DE-VM images (p ≥ 0.05; 1.19 vs. 1.24–1.32). However, SE-LTP images had less noise and artifacts and were sharper compared to DE-VM images less than 70 keV (p < 0.05). On a per-patient basis, radiologists preferred SE-LTP images the most and preferred 40–50 keV the least (p < 0.0001). Lesion CNR was also higher in SE-LTP images than DE-VM images (p < 0.01). Conclusion: For the same applied dose level, liver lesions were more conspicuous using DE-VM compared to SE-LTP; however, SE-LTP images were preferred more than any single DE-VM energy level, likely due to lower noise and artifacts.
- Dual-energy CT
- Image quality
- Radiation dosage
- Virtual monoenergetic imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging