Purpose: Frequent review of CT scanner protocols has been recognized as an important component to any CT quality control (QC) program, yet manual review is extremely labor‐intensive and prone to human errors. The purpose of this study was to develop, implement and evaluate a software system to automatically monitor protocols on our CT scanners. Methods: A software system written in Matlab (MathWorks) and Excel Visual Basic (Microsoft) was developed to automatically check scanner CT protocols and notify designated users of changes on a weekly basis. The development team included medical physicists and lead technologists. Abdomen and pelvis protocols were monitored between December 2012 and February 2013 on two representative CT scanners for adult and pediatric, single‐and dual‐energy protocols. A total of 78 and 89 protocols were monitored on scanners 1 and 2, respectively. The overall workflow and number of errors identified were evaluated. Results: During the 2+ months monitoring period, 89 scanning protocols were modified on scanner 1, of which 20 were identified to be inappropriate (22%). 40 protocols were modified on scanner 2, of which 5 were identified to be inappropriate (13%). While the most frequent inappropriate modification was to the series description, errors were also found in changes to mAs, kernel, and reconstruction direction, increment and slice width. Conclusion: In routine clinical practice, CT protocols were found to be changed quite frequently. Thus, an automated protocol QC program is essential to ensure protocol accuracy and consistency. Use of access controls to limit the number of users able to modify protocols may help reduce the number of changes, but does not guarantee the accuracy of changes by authorized users. We successfully developed and implemented a software system to automatically monitor CT protocols that can be easily applied to a wide range of practices with negligible impact on workload.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging