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How Should Focal Spot Be Chosen for Optimized CT Imaging with Dose Modulation?

S Bache

S Bache*, X Liu , J Rong , UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX


SU-G-206-8 (Sunday, July 31, 2016) 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Room: 206

Purpose: To choose the preferred focal spot for achieving optimized CT image quality with balanced tube heating considerations.

Methods: An anthropomorphic pelvic phantom was scanned using a GE Discovery CT750 HD at 120 and 140kVp, 0.8s rotation time, and pitch of 0.984. “Smart mA” was enabled to simulate a routine abdomen–pelvis CT scan. Permissible mA values at 120 and 140 kVp were obtained from the Serial Load Rating table (for mimicking a busy CT clinical operation) in the scanner Technical Reference Manual. At each kVp station and two Noise Index levels, the mA Upper Limit was set above/below the permissible mA values. Scanned mA values and focal spot (FS) used were obtained from the DICOM header of each image, and the FS-mA relationship was analyzed. For visual confirmation beyond recorded FS information, a CatPhan with a fat-ring attached for mimicking patient size/shape was scanned at 120kVp. A group of radiologists/physicists compared a pair of CatPhan images qualitatively. Lastly, a number of patient cases were evaluated to confirm the FS-mA relationship.

Results: When preset Upper Limit values were above the permissible mA values, the Large FS (labeled 1.2) was used in scans, even if the maximum scanned mA values were much lower than the permissible values at both 120 and 140 kVp. Otherwise the Small FS (labeled 0.7) was used. Visual evaluation of the high contrast module of CatPhan and additional analysis of patient cases further confirmed that the preset Upper Limit determines which focal spot is to be used, not the actual maximum mA value to be scanned.

Conclusion: Specific FS can be selected by setting up appropriate mA Upper Limit in a protocol. CT protocols could be optimized by selecting appropriate FS for improving patient image quality, especially benefiting the small size and pediatric patients.

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