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Setting up computed tomography automatic tube current modulation systems

By C.J. Martin and S. Sookpeng

Abstract

Automatic tube current modulation (ATCM) on CT scanners can yield significant reductions in patient doses. Modulation is based on x-ray beam attenuation in body tissues obtained from scan projection radiographs (SPRs) and aims to maintain the same level of image quality throughout a scan. Noise level is important in judging image quality, but tissues in larger patients exhibit higher contrast resulting from the presence of fat. CT scanner manufacturers use different metrics to assess image quality. Some employ a simple measure of image noise, while others adopt a measure related to a reference image that accepts higher noise levels in more attenuating parts with higher contrast. At the present time there is no standard method for testing ATCM. This paper reviews the operation of different ATCM systems, considers options for testing, and sets out a framework that could be used for optimizing clinical protocols. If dose and image quality can be established for a reference phantom, the modulation performed by ATCM systems can be characterised using anatomical phantoms or geometrical elliptical phantoms which may be conical or include sections of varying dimension. For scanners using a reference image or mAs, selection of the image quality reference determines other factors. However, for scanners using a noise reference, a higher noise level should be selected for larger patients to avoid high doses, and the operator should ensure that appropriate limits are set for mA modulation. Other factors that need to be considered include the SPRs used to plan the ATCM and image thickness. Users should be aware of the mode of operation of the ATCM system on their CT scanner, and be familiar with the effects of changing different protocol parameters. The behaviour of ATCM systems should be established through testing of each CT scanner with suitable phantoms during commissioning

Publisher: IOP Publishing
Year: 2016
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.gla.ac.uk:122709
Provided by: Enlighten
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