ObjectiveThe purposes of this study were to evaluate the quality and radiation exposure of data acquired with dual-energy CT compared with single-energy MDCT in the depiction of lower-extremity tendons and to assess whether a dual-energy CT voltage exists at which the quality of tendon depiction is optimal.
Subjects and methodsEleven healthy volunteers and seven clinically referred patients (10 men, eight women; mean age, 43.1 years; range, 20-71 years) underwent conventional single-energy CT and dual-energy CT examinations of both lower extremities with a dual-source CT scanner. Dual-energy reconstructions were made at combined tube voltages approximating 86, 98, 110, 122, and 134 kVp. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed on six tendons in each lower extremity, and the findings were compared with single-energy CT findings. The radiation dose involved was recorded in each case.
ResultsA trend toward increasing tendon attenuation was observed with increasing reconstructed tube voltage. The group of single-energy CT reconstructions proved significantly superior to each of the dual-energy CT reconstructions with regard to signal-to-noise ratio (F = 35.25, p < 0.0001) and contrast-to-noise ratio (F = 37.19, p < 0.0001), although interobserver agreement in subjective ranking was poor. Dual-energy CT had a significantly higher radiation dose (p < 0.05) than single-energy CT.
ConclusionDual-energy CT of lower-extremity tendons, irrespective of the reconstruction tube voltage chosen, yields multiplanar reformations inferior to those of single-energy CT with regard to signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios while involving significantly escalated patient exposure to ionizing radiation. Whether the tissue-differentiating promise of dual-energy CT is realized in future studies and warrants such concessions remains to be seen.