A comparison between low-dose and standard-dose non-contrasted multidetector CT scanning of the paranasal sinuses
Department of Biomedical Imaging, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Purpose: To compare the image quality of the low-dose
to the standard-dose protocol of MDCT scanning of the paranasal sinuses, based
on subjective assessment and determine the radiation doses to the eyes and
thyroid gland and dose reduction between these two protocols.
Materials and Methods: 31 adult patients were
scanned. Prior to scanning, thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) were placed at
4 sites: outer canthus of right eye, outer canthus of left eye, inner canthus
and anterior neck (thyroid gland). Every patient was scanned twice using the
standard-dose protocol (100mAs) followed by the low-dose protocol (40mAs). The
images were reviewed by 3 radiologists. Wilcoxon test was used as the test of
significance for the image quality assessments. The paired sample t-test was
used as the test of significance for the analysis of the radiation doses
measured by the TLDs.
Results: Of the 30 patients selected for analysis,
this study showed no significant difference in the scores for the diagnostic
image quality and the anatomical structures assessments between the two
protocols. The average calculated mean entrance surface doses and standard
deviation for the standard-dose and low-dose protocols were 12.40�1.39 mGy and
5.53�0.82 mGy respectively to the lens and 1.03�0.55 mGy and 0.63�0.53 mGy
respectively to the thyroid gland.
Conclusion: The reduction of mAs from 100 to 40
resulted in a significant reduction of the radiation doses to the lens and
thyroid gland by 55.4% and 38.8% respectively without causing any significant
effect to the diagnostic image quality and assessment of the anatomical
structures. � 2009 Biomedical Imaging and Intervention Journal. All rights
Keywords: CT Paranasal sinuses; Low-dose Protocol; Chronic
Sinusitis is one of the most common health care problems
worldwide and there is evidence that it is increasing in prevalence and
incidence. In patients suspected to have acute sinusitis, this stage is usually
treated medically and radiological investigation is rarely required.
While plain radiographs have often been used as part of
the initial workup of patients with suspected chronic sinusitis, it is well
known that the sensitivity of plain radiography in diagnosing this condition is
much lower than computed tomography (CT) as interpretation is fraught with
difficulty due to the great variation in normal appearance of the paranasal
sinuses and the presence of many complex overlapping structures. Plain
radiographs also have low specificity and sensitivity when compared with
clinical and surgical findings . In 1995, the Royal College of Radiologists
Working Party  said that plain radiographs have no place in the routine
management of rhinosinusitis.
Thus, CT has become the method of choice for confirming
and determining the extent of the disease. In addition, with the progress of
effective surgical techniques for chronic sinusitis such as functional endoscopic
sinus surgery (FESS), which has been increasingly employed in the treatment of
sinus disease, high-quality CT has become a well-established mandatory
preoperative diagnostic tool. This is due to the advantage of CT in providing
detailed information of the highly variable anatomy of the nasal cavities and
paranasal sinuses as well as the relationship of the diseased areas to vital
structures such as the optic nerve and internal carotid artery, thereby
providing a �roadmap� for endoscopic surgery [3-5].
However, the known disadvantage of CT imaging is the
radiation exposure and the most radiosensitive organs within the scanning field
are the thyroid gland and the eye lens, in which the latter organ is at risk
for radiation induced cataract [6-7]. Thus, limiting and reducing radiation
dose to the eye is important, especially in young patients and in patients who
require repeated scanning in which they are subjected to cumulative radiation
exposure of multiple scans.
The tube current setting during scan acquisition is the
most important parameter that affects radiation dose and image quality.
Ideally, the tube current setting is selected at those that use the minimum
radiation required for diagnostic image quality. From the early nineties, in
view of the high inherent contrast structures in sinus CT, attempts have been
made to adopt low-dose methods as the diagnostic quality of images of these
high inherent contrast structures (normally viewed with window width of +2000)
is not substantially affected by a worsening of signal-to-noise ratio even when
the scanning is done in very thin slices [8-15]. With the advent of
multi-detector CT (MDCT) scanners with excellent multiplanar reconstruction,
excellent image quality can be produced at a much lower radiation dose.
This paper�s general objective is to determine if the
image quality of the low-dose protocol MDCT scanning of the paranasal sinuses
has any significant difference to the image quality of standard-dose protocol
based on subjective assessment, for the diagnosis and management of patient
with chronic sinusitis. Specifically, we compare the diagnostic image quality
and the delineation of the important and clinically relevant anatomical details
of the nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses between low-dose and standard-dose
MDCT scanning of the paranasal sinuses. The absorbed eye and thyroid doses of
both protocols were also measured.
Patient selection and Period of Study
This prospective study was carried out on 31 adult
patients referred to the Biomedical Imaging Department of University Malaya
Medical Centre (UMMC) for CT of the paranasal sinuses. The period of data
collection was from October 2005 till October 2006. This study was approved by
the Medical Ethics Committee, UMMC (MEC. Ref. No. 465.15) and supported by
University Malaya (UM), Vote F (F0217/2005C), Short-Term Research Fund.
Inclusion and exclusion criteria
The patients who were scheduled for non-contrasted CT
scanning of the paranasal sinuses were those suspected to have chronic
sinusitis or recurrent chronic sinusitis or nasal polyp. Patients who had been
selected for preoperative assessment for FESS and for further assessment of the
paranasal sinuses (post-FESS) were also included in this study. The patients
who were less than 18 years old or suspected to have other paranasal sinus
pathology such as tumours or fractures were excluded from this study.
Procedure and Methods
Informed consent was obtained from all patients in the
study and any radio-opaque objects were removed from the patients� head and
neck region. Patients� height, weight, anteroposterior and biparietal head
measurements were carried out. The patients were scanned in the supine
position. After obtaining the topogram and prior to the first scanning, two
lithium fluoride thermoluminescent dosimeter (TLD) chips aligned in a plastic
sachet were attached to the patient�s skin parallel to the beam slice using
surgical plaster on each of the following 4 sites: outer canthus of right eye,
outer canthus of left eye, inner canthus and anterior neck (thyroid gland).
Scanning Protocols and Reconstruction
Non-contrasted helical scanning was performed using the
16-slice CT scanner (Siemens SOMATOM Sensation 16, Forschheim, Germany) in axial sections covering the region from the top of the frontal sinuses to the hard
palate and from the tip of the nose to the region just posterior to the mastoid
air cells. The scans were acquired in a cranio-caudal order.
Each of the patients was scanned twice, first using the
standard protocol followed by the low-dose protocol. Prior to the second
scanning, the TLDs were removed and replaced by another new set of TLDs attached
on the same sites. Both protocols comprised a fixed KVp of 120, slice
collimation of 16 x 0.75 mm, slice width of 3.0 mm, feed per rotation of 6.0
mm, rotation time of 0.5 s and pitch of 0.55. The only parameter that was
varied in this study is the effective mAs, which was 100 in the standard-dose
protocol and 40 in the low-dose protocol.
Both the scans were acquired using Kernel H60f sharp and
in osteo window. A 512 x 512 image matrix was used for both scans. From the
volumetric raw data of both scanning protocols, the images of each patient were
then reconstructed in 1.0 mm with an increment of 0.8 mm and saved in a
Prior to data analysis, the images in the compact disc of
each patient were loaded into the GE Advantage Workstation AW 4.2_07. The
reformatted axial and coronal images of the standard-dose and low-dose
protocols of each patient were then independently evaluated by three
experienced radiologists at different times. The readers were blinded to the mAs
setting used and the images were viewed in bone window setting (window width of
2000 and window level of 350) and in the same viewing condition. The images
were reviewed and scored only once by the three radiologists.
The image quality was assessed based on the following
criteria. First, the diagnostic image quality was assessed by the complete
opacification of one or more of the sinuses, presence of mucosal thickening,
air-fluid level, any bony abnormalities (sclerosis, thickening or lysis),
deviation of nasal septum and turbinate hypertrophy. Scores were ascribed as
follows: 0 if the radiological finding is not seen, 1 if the radiological
finding is visible but indeterminate and 2 if the radiological finding is
clearly seen. Secondly, the following important and clinically relevant
anatomical structures of the nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses were
assessed: the maxillary sinuses, osteomeatal complex (including the ethmoidal
infundibulum, uncinate process, maxillary ostium, ostia of anterior and middle
ethmoidal air cells and middle meatus), frontal sinus, frontal recesses,
anterior ethmoidal air cells (including the agger nasi cells-frontal anterior
ethmoidal air cells), posterior ethmoidal air cells, basal lamina (divides the
anterior and posterior ethmoidal air cells), sphenoethmoidal recess (including
the ostium of the sphenoid sinus), sphenoid sinus and septum,� cribriform
plate, lamina papyracea, the path of both optic nerves, including its relation
to the posterior ethmoidal air cells and both internal carotid arteries (ICA)
in relation to the sphenoid sinus. The reviewers were asked to judge whether
the appearance of the anatomic structures was normal, indeterminate or
abnormal. Scores were again ascribed as follows: 0 if the structure is normal,
1 if the structure is indeterminate and 2 if the structure is abnormal. Mucosa
was considered to be normal if it was not visible and was considered abnormal
(thickened) if it was visible. Indeterminate findings included those instances
in which a reviewer was doubtful or in which the anatomic structure was not
seen (e.g., the osteomeatal unit after a previous surgery of the maxillary
sinus or anatomical variations such as non-pneumatization of the sinuses). The
bones were considered abnormal if there were any sclerosis, thickening or lysis
noted. The frontal and sphenoethmoidal recesses were considered abnormal if the
recesses were not seen to be patent.
For each scan, scores for the diagnostic image quality
were then added together to achieve an overall quality rating. Thus, the
minimum possible score for diagnostic image quality assessment was 0 and
maximum score was 12. Similarly, for each scan, scores for the important and
clinically relevant anatomical structures of the nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses
assessment were added together to achieve an overall quality rating and the
minimum possible score for this assessment was 0 and the maximum score was 30.
The coefficient of variance was calculated from the total
scores of the diagnostic image quality and anatomical structures assessment for
the standard-dose and low-dose protocols respectively. The overall
interobserver variability and the inter-observer variability between the
respective reviewers were determined.
Radiation Dose Measurement
The TLDs of LiF:Mg,Cu,P (Harshaw TLD-100H) were used for
the dose measurement. An ionization chamber (Model Radcal 10X5-60) was used for
calibration of the TLDs. This ionization chamber system was calibrated annually
by the Malaysian Nuclear Agency which is the Secondary Standard Dosimetry
Laboratory. For the sensitivity test, 100 chips were exposed at air kerma of
100 mR. Only the chips that have sensitivity within 10% of the mean value were
used for this study. The linearity of these TLDs was tested over the range of
150 mR to 750 mR and the results showed a good linear fit with a coefficient of
determination (R2) of 0.997. The calculated response of the TLDs
from tube voltage 120 kV was taken as the calibration factor in this study.
Prior to use, all chips were annealed for 10 minutes at 240�C in a
nickel-plated copper annealing stack. The TLD readings of each patient were
carried out after the scanning and calculations of the equivalent dose to the
eyes and thyroid gland were done. TLD dose of the eye was assumed to be equal
to the dose delivered to the lens. The respective estimated effective doses
(ED) and organ doses for male and female of both scanning protocols were also
obtained from commercially available software i.e. WinDose 2.1a, Institute of Medical Physic, Erlangen, Germany, and were compared to the calculated dose from
the TLD. Two methods of quantifying dose in CT are the dose-length product
(DLP) measured in mGy.cm and the weighted CT dose index (CTDIw).
Data was analyzed using the software Microsoft Excel 2000
and SPSS version 12.0 for Windows. The mean total scores from the low-dose
protocol were compared to the mean total scores from the standard dose protocol
of each reviewer for both diagnostic image quality and relevant anatomical
structures assessments. The null hypothesis was that there is no difference
between these scores. The non-parametric Wilcoxon signed rank test was used as
the test of significance and the p-value of less than 0.05 was considered
statistically significant. The parametric paired sample t-test was used as the
test of significance for the comparison between the radiation doses (entrance
surface dose) measured by the TLD during CT scanning of the paranasal sinuses
using standard-dose and low-dose protocol, respectively. The calculations were
done at 95% confidence interval.
Basic demographic data and characteristics of studied patients
Of the 30 patients selected for the analysis of this
study, 17 (56.7%) were male and 13 (43.3%) were female. One patient was
excluded from the analysis of this study due to incomplete CT image acquisition
and inaccurate radiation dose measurement. The patients� ages varied from 20 to
72 years old with a mean age of 43.5 years. Their heights and weights ranged from
140.0 cm to 176.0 cm and from 39.0 kg to 92.8 kg, respectively, with mean
height of 160.8 cm and mean weight of 62.3 kg. The head measurement in
anteroposterior (AP) and biparietal (BP) diameters of the patients varied from
17.3 cm to 20.0 cm and from 13.0 cm to 16.8 cm with mean of 18.5 cm and
15.2 cm, respectively (Table 1).
Clinical data of studied patients
The indications for the CT scanning in these studied
patients were acute and chronic sinusitis, frontal headache, nasal polyp and
for pre-operative assessment prior to FESS. Three of the patients included in
this study had history of previous sinus surgery. One of the patients who had
previous nasopharyngeal carcinoma 20 years ago, was treated with
radiotherapy and in remission but subsequently developed chronic sinusitis was
also included in this study. This was thought not to affect the general and
specific objectives of the study which was to compare the diagnostic image
quality of both protocols.
Diagnostic image quality assessment
Based on the analysis of the overall total score of both
protocols by the first reviewer (radiologist 1), there were differences seen in
the scores of five studied patients. However, these differences have been
proven to be statistically not significant (Table 2). As for the second and
third reviewers (radiologist 2 and 3), there was no difference in the total
scores of all the CT images reviewed.
In the analysis of the actual score of the individual
radiological findings, there were differences seen between the two protocols of
five patients on the assessment of the bony abnormalities, deviation of nasal
septum and turbinate hypertrophy, especially the bony abnormalities i.e. bony
lysis on three of the studied patients by the first reviewer. However, these
differences again have been proven to be statistically not significant (Table
3). Similarly, there was no difference in the actual score of all the
individual radiological findings by the second and third reviewers.
Assessment of anatomical structures
Based on the analysis of the overall total score of both
protocols by the first reviewer (radiologist 1), there were differences seen in
the scores of seven studied patients. However, these differences have been
proven to be statistically not significant (Table 4). As for the second and
third reviewers (radiologist 2 and 3), there was no difference in the total
scores of all the CT images reviewed.
In the analysis of the actual score of the individual
anatomical structures, there were differences seen between the two protocols of
seven patients on the assessment of the frontal recesses, basal lamina and
sphenoethmoidal recess, especially the frontal recesses on five of the studied
patients by the first reviewer. However, these differences again have been
proven to be statistically not significant (Table 5). Similarly, there was no
difference in the actual score of all the individual radiological findings by
the second and third reviewers.
The overall coefficient of variance (CoV) that was
calculated for the diagnostic image quality assessment of the standard-dose and
low-dose protocols were 24.8% and 26.2%, respectively. The CoV that was
calculated for this assessment between the first and second reviewers for both
protocols were 4.1% and 5.7%, respectively. The calculated CoV between the
first and third reviewers for both protocols were 30.7% and 34.1%,
respectively, and between the second and third reviewers were 33.9% for both
protocols, respectively (Table 6).
The overall CoV that was calculated for the anatomical
structure assessment for the standard-dose and low-dose protocols were 25.8%
and 26.0%, respectively. The CoV that was calculated for this assessment
between the first and second reviewers for both protocols were 6.1% and 6.2%,
respectively. The calculated CoV between the first and third reviewers for both
protocols were 38.2% and 38.6%, respectively, and between the second and third
reviewers were 35.8% for both protocols, respectively (Table 6).
Radiation dose measurement
Radiation dose measurement using the TLD was only done on
23 patients in this study as the TLDs were not ready for use during scanning of
the remaining eight patients. However, the result of one of the patients was
excluded as there was a technical error during scanning in which the scanner
stopped scanning halfway during the low-dose protocol and the doses measured
were unacceptably higher than expected.
The average calculated mean entrance surface doses and
standard deviation based on the TLD measurement during CT scanning of the
paranasal sinuses using the standard-dose and low-dose protocol were 12.40�1.39 mGy
and 5.53�0.82 mGy, respectively, to the lens and 1.03�0.55 mGy and 0.63�0.53
mGy, respectively, to the thyroid gland. The mean dose reduction to the eyes
and thyroid gland was 55.4% and 38.8%, respectively. Significant reduction in
the mean doses between the two protocols is seen at 95% confidence interval
(Table 7). Similarly, the weighted CT dose index (CTDIw) and dose-length
product (DLP) showed reduction in the mean dose of 59.6% and 59.7%,
respectively, when the mAs was reduced from 100 to 40 (Table 8).
Discussion and Conclusion
The advent of new generation CT scanners with improved
spatial and contrast resolution had provided the potential to maintain scan
quality at a much lower radiation dose and thus, revolutionized diagnostic
imaging. In view of the high inherent contrast structures in sinus CT, attempts
have been made to adopt low-dose methods in many studies and had proven not to
affect the diagnostic image quality. However, it is not uncommon for an imaging
department to adhere to the standard imaging protocol without being aware of
radiation dose reduction potentialities.
The tube current setting in the standard protocol in the
authors� department was 100 mAs using the 16-slice CT scanner (Siemens SOMATOM
Sensation 16). Tube current setting of 40 mAs was employed in the low-dose
protocol based on the recommended parameter from the scanner�s manufacturer and
was the lowest mAs possible for scanning. During the pilot study, the CT
scanner was unable to scan at the tube current setting below 40 mAs. The
assessment of image quality was divided into two parts; the diagnostic and
associated radiological findings of acute or chronic sinusitis and its
complications, and the clarity of the anatomical structures which are important
to the ENT surgeons for pre-operative assessment.
The authors� study results show that the diagnostic and
associated radiological features of acute or chronic sinusitis can be clearly
visualized on the low-dose protocol scans with no significant difference to the
standard-dose protocol despite some increase in noise (graininess).
Individually, there were no discrepancies in the total and individual scores
between the two protocols given by the second and third reviewers and only
small discrepancies in the scores given by the first reviewer.
As for the first reviewer, the differences in the
individual scores of three radiological findings were noted, namely bony
abnormalities, deviation of nasal septum and turbinate hypertrophy. The
subjective assessment of these structures may differ at different time of
reading by a reviewer especially if the abnormality is of a mild degree.
As for the assessment of the clarity of the important
anatomical structures, again the authors found that there was no significant
difference between the standard-dose and low-dose protocol scans. Individually,
there were again no discrepancies in the total and individual scores between
the two protocols given by the second and third reviewers and only small
discrepancies in the scores given by the first reviewer. In the first reviewer,
the differences in the individual scores of three anatomical structures were
noted i.e. frontal recesses, basal lamina and sphenoethmoidal recess. Due to
anatomical variation in different patients, these structures were not clearly
identified in some of the scans causing discrepancies in the assessment of
these structures. Thus, it was thought that these discrepancies were not due to
the effect of the different protocols used in the scanning.
The overall coefficient of variance (CoV) reflecting the
inter-observer variability of the three reviewers in the diagnostic image
quality assessment was 28.4% for the standard-dose protocol and 26.2% for the
low-dose protocol. However, the CoV calculated between the first and second
reviewers were small (4.1% and 5.7%, respectively) in contrast to the values
calculated between the first and second reviewers and the third reviewer,
respectively (30-34%). Similar results were also seen with the anatomical
structures assessment in which the overall CoV calculated was 25.8% for the
standard-dose protocol and 26.0% for the low-dose protocol. The CoV calculated
between the first and second reviewers were also small (6.1% and 6.2%,
respectively) in contrast to the values calculated between the first and second
reviewers and the third reviewer, respectively (35-38%). The difference in the
experiences of the three reviewers is the most likely cause for the high interobserver
variability, particularly with the third reviewer.
However, the authors� overall findings are agreeable with
some of the results of previous studies which suggest that low mAs settings do
not adversely affect the diagnostic image quality and bony details in the CT
scanning of paranasal sinuses for acute or chronic sinusitis. Duvoisin et al
 concluded that tube setting of as low as 30 mAs is sufficient for analysis
of normal and abnormal structures. Kerney et al  found that the overall perceived
quality of the scans and clarity of important anatomical structures are not
affected by scanning at 40 mAs. Sohaib et al  also concluded that important
anatomical structures can be clearly seen on scan done at 50 mAs. The results
of these three studies are in good agreement with the results of the authors�
study. Recently, a study done by Brem et al , using computer simulation of
the effect of low-radiation dose acquisition on MDCT of paranasal sinuses,
identified an effective tube current of 67 mAs in providing sufficient
diagnostic quality for the bone structures studied (nasal septum, middle and
inferior turbinates, and frontal sinus). They also found that a higher
effective tube current of 134 mAs allows adequate visualization of both soft tissue
and bone structures. Attempts to further lower the radiation dose possibly
equal or lower than the radiation exposure of four-view radiographic
examination had also been done. In the study done by Marmolya et al , they
concluded that except for defining bone� landmarks and borders of the sinuses,
scans done at tube current setting as low as 16 mAs on axial scanning are still
diagnostic for sinusitis and ostia narrowing can be seen as a cause. Tack et al
 concluded that the dose reduction as low as 10 mAs played a far less
important role in discrepancies of detected� abnormalities than did the human
element of reviewer observation and suggested that low-dose MDCT scanning of
the paranasal sinuses should be considered the imaging method of choice in
patients with suspected chronic sinusitis. However, the results of these two
studies are not comparable with the authors� findings. In the sample population
of this study, the weight of the patients varied from 39.0 kg to 92.8 kg and
the mean antero-posterior and biparietal diameter of the head are 18.5 cm and
15.2 cm with standard deviation of 0.68 cm and 0.93 cm, respectively. Although,
there is a large difference in the patient�s weight of 53.8 kg but this
variable is less important in the assessment of the paranasal sinus region.
Head size is a more important variable that affects the radiation dose
measurement, but this study shows that the difference in the head size of adult
population is less than 2 cm, which is small, and therefore, will not significantly
affect the radiation dose measurement.
In this study, the TLD doses at the outer cantus of both
eyes, inter cantus and anterior neck regions are assumed to be equal to the
dose delivered to the eye lens and thyroid gland respectively. The result of
this study shows that the radiation dose to the eye lens is 12.40�1.39 mGy at
100 mAs and 5.53�0.82 mGy at 40 mAs and the radiation dose to the thyroid
gland is 1.03�0.55 mGy at 100 mAs and 0.63�0.53 mGy at 40 mAs. These doses
are almost comparable to the organ doses obtained from commercially available
software i.e. WinDose 2.1a (Institute of Medical Physics, Erlangen, Germany) in
which the eye lens doses are 15.40 mSv for male and 16.01 mSv for female at 100
mAs, and 6.16 mSv for male and 6.40 mSv for female at 40mAs, and the
thyroid doses are 0.96 mSv for male and 0.92 mSv for female at 100 mAs and
0.38 mSv for male and 0.37 mSv for female at 40mAs. These results compare
favourably with other recent studies done. In the study done by Zammit-Maempel
et al in 2003 , using Siemens Somatom Volume Zoom quad slice CT scanner,
they found that the TLD measurement at the parameters of 120 kV and effective
mAs of 100 showed mean lens dose of 28.7 mGy and thyroid dose of 1.3 mGy
and at the parameters of 120 kV and effective mAs of 40, the mean lens dose was
9.2 mGy and thyroid dose was 0.4 mGy. The average scan time was 11s with 1 mm
collimation used but the pitch was not mentioned in this study. Cathcart et al
in 2002  using a Toshiba Express Helical CT scanner with parameters of 120
KVp, 50 mAs and pitch ratio of 1.6, reported the estimated radiation dose to
eye lens to be 5 mGy. Sohaib et al in 2001  reported that the mean absorbed
dose to the lens ranges from 2.0- 14.3 mGy at 100 mAs to 1.0‑5.6 mGy
at 50 mAs using GE HiSpeed Advantage CT scanner with other parameters of 120
KVp and 1 s per slice at 5 mm table increments of sequential scanning.
In other words, this study shows that there is a
significant reduction of the doses to the lens of the eye and thyroid gland by
55.4% and 38.8%, respectively when the mAs is reduced from 100 to 40. Although
the eye lens dose measured during CT scanning of the paranasal sinuses at
standard dose protocol is substantially less than the cumulative radiation
exposure of 0.5-2 Gy believed to induce corneal opacities  and the
radiation exposure of over 5 Gy to cause visual impairment due to cataract,
this dose reduction is still important. There is a theoretical risk of
non-deterministic effects in which the radiation exposure is cumulative in
nature in its effect on the eye lens particularly to some patients requiring
The calculated effective doses according to Publication 60
of the International Commission of Radiation Protection (ICRP) using the software
WinDose 2.1a (Institute of Medical Physic, Erlangen, Germany) at 100 mAs are
0.68 mSv for male and 0.66 mSv for female, and at 40 mAs are 0.27 mSv for male
and 0.26 mSv for female. This study further shows that by using a lower mAs
with an effective dose of approximately 0.3 mSv, the risk of fatal cancer is
estimated at 1 in 67,000 as compared to 1 in 30,000 for an effective dose of
approximately 0.7 mSv if the standard mA is used . There is also evidence
of dose reduction of 59.6% and 59.7% based on the CTDIw and DLP values,
respectively, when a lower mA is used. In addition, reducing the mA setting
also has the advantage of reducing tube loading and prolonging the life of the
X-ray tube . Based on a current review article on CT as an increasing
source of radiation exposure , there has been a great concern on the
increasing radiation exposure in a given population and the main concern is on
radiation-induced carcinogenesis. A recent large-scale study of 400,000
radiation workers in the nuclear industry showed a significant increase in the
risk of cancer among these workers who received doses between 5 and 150 mSv.
Similar findings were also reported in the subgroup of atomic-bomb Japanese
survivors. Although the individual risk estimates are small, when applied to an
increasingly large population may lead to a public health issue in the future.
There had been a rapid increase in the use of CT scans in many countries,
notably in Japan. According to a survey conducted in 1996, the number of CT
scanners per 1 million population was 64 in Japan and 24 in United States. An exponential
increase in the number of CT scans performed annually in the United States had
also been reported. It is estimated that more than 62 million CT scans are
currently obtained each year in United States, as compared to about 3 million
scans in 1980 . In Malaysia, there was also a notable increase in the use
of CT by 161% from 1990 till 1994, based on a national survey [20, 21], which
is the only latest data available and reported.
One of the ways to reduce radiation dose from CT in the
population is to reduce the CT-related dose in individual patients. Thus,
reduction of CT dose should be attempted wherever is possible, as shown and
proven in this study. In addition, children are at greater risk than adults in
developing radiation-induced cancers as they are inherently more
radiosensitive. A low-dose protocol for CT scanning of the paranasal sinuses in
paediatric patients should also be employed. There are some limitations in this
study. The first limitation is that the assessments were done on a
noncontrasted CT scan of the paranasal sinuses. Thus, the results of this study
will not be applicable to the contrasted CT scanning of the paranasal sinuses
for other indications such as sinus tumours or abscesses. Secondly, the
low-dose protocol used i.e. 40 mAs may not be directly transferable to
different scanner types as the lowest mAs value which will not affect the
diagnostic image quality of the examination may be higher. Based on this study,
the lowest mAs sufficient for diagnostic quality is 40. Further reduction of
the mAs is thought to be possible without compromising diagnostic quality.
Further studies using lower mAs can be done to further reduce the radiation dose
to the patient. The radiation dose measurements were done on the actual CT
scanning, excluding the topogram. Hence, the actual radiation dose to the
patient should be more than the calculated value. The radiation dose measured
in this study may be different with other scanners of different manufacturer
even with the same tube current setting.
In conclusion, despite the limitations in this study, the
authors strongly recommend the employment of low dose technique in all
non-contrasted CT scanning of the paranasal sinuses.
The authors wish to thank Dr. Gopala Krishnan and
Dr.Abdullah Sani for their advice and expert opinion in this study. The authors
would also like to thank Mdm. Aminah and Mr. Arif for TLD analysis and
radiation dose calculation and Mr. Tan LK, Mr. Mah YH and Dr. Kulenthran
Arumugam for the statistical analysis.
Figure 1 Axial and Sagittal images of MDCT scans obtained at 100 mAs (A, B) and 40 mAs (C, D) at the level of the maxillary sinuses show complete opacification of the right maxillary sinus (star) and air-fluid level in the left maxillary sinus (arrow). No significant difference in the diagnostic image quality of these two radiological findings of these two scans.
Figure 2 Coronal reformatted images of MDCT scans obtained at 100 mAs (A) and 40 mAs (B) at the level of osteomeatal complex showing a normal right osteomeatal complex and a blocked left osteomeatal complex (arrow). This structure is clearly identified and correctly assessed in these two scans of this patient.
Figure 3 Coronal reformatted images of MDCT scans obtained at 100 mAs (A) and 40 mAs (B) at the level of osteomeatal complex showing the left uncinate process (arrow). This structure is clearly identified and correctly assessed in these two scans of this patient.
Figure 4 Coronal reformatted images of MDCT scans obtained at 100 mAs (A) and 40 mAs (B) at the level of frontal recess showing a normal left frontal recess (arrow) and a blocked right frontal recess. This structure is also clearly identified and correctly assessed in these two scans of this patient.
Figure 5 Axial images of MDCT scans obtained at 100 mAs (A) and 40 mAs (B) at the level of the ethmoidal sinuses showing an abnormal (blocked) right sphenoethmoidal recess (arrow) and a normal (patent) left sphenoethmoidal recess (arrow head) which are clearly seen in these two scans.
Figure 6 Axial images of MDCT scans obtained at 100 mAs (A) and 40 mAs (B) at the level of the ethmoidal sinuses showing erosion of the right lamina papyracea (black arrow) and basal lamina (black arrow head). The left lamina papyracea (white arrow) and left basal lamina (white arrow head) are preserved. These structures are clearly seen in these two scans.
Table 1 Patient Characteristics.
Table 2 Mean scores and significance (p-value) of the overall diagnostic image quality assessment of the CT images at both protocols (based on Wilcoxon�s Signed Rank Test).
Table 3 Comparison between the standard-dose and low-dose protocols of the selected radiological findings (based on Wilcoxon�s Signed Rank Test).
Table 4 Mean scores and significance (p-value) of the overall assessment of the selected anatomical structures on CT images at both protocols (based on Wilcoxon�s Signed Ranks Test).
Table 5 Comparison between the standard-dose and low-dose protocols of the selected anatomical structures (based on Wilcoxon�s Signed Ranks Test).
Table 6 Inter-observer variability as shown by the coefficient of variance for the total scores of the diagnostic image quality and anatomical structures assessment of standard-dose and low-dose protocols.
Table 7 Radiation Doses (Entrance Surface Dose) based on TLD measurement during CT scanning of the paranasal sinuses using standard-dose and low-dose protocols (based on Paired-sampled T-Test).
Table 8 CT Methods of Dose Quantification of both protocols.
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|Received 19 June 2008; received in revised form 3 December
2008, accepted 10 June 2009
Correspondence: Department of Biomedical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tel.: +603-79492069; Fax: +603-79581973; E-mail: email@example.com (Sze-Yin Lam).
Please cite as: Lam SY, Bux SI, Kumar G, Ng KH, Hussain AF,
A comparison between low-dose and standard-dose non-contrasted multidetector CT scanning of the paranasal sinuses, Biomed Imaging Interv J 2009; 5(3):e13