Purpose: Our purpose was to determine the optimal helical thoracic CT scanning protocol. Method: Three adult Suffolk sheep under general anesthesia were repeatedly scanned by a variety of variable thickness helical and conventional plus thin section high resolution (lung gold standard) CT sequences, reconstructed for mediastinal (standard interpolator and algorithm) and lung parenchymal (extrasharp interpolator, bone algorithm) detail. The images were evaluated in a random order by five separate blinded, experienced imagers utilizing a predetermined grading scale. Results: At equivalent slice thicknesses, the mediastinal images showed no statistically significant differences between conventional and helical CT using pitches of 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0. However, the 5-mm-thick sections, regardless of technique, performed better than did either the 2- or the 10-mm-thick section images. For the lung interstitium, there was an obvious and marked advantage to reconstructing the lung images separately from the mediastinal images with edge-enhancing algorithms and interpolators. With 1-mm-high mA thin section, high resolution lung CT as the gold standard, 2 mm conventional and helical pitch 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 images were all graded equivalent. Of the 5 mm images, the helical pitches of 1.0 and 1.5 were graded equivalent to the gold standard. All of the 10 mm lung sections using both conventional and helical CT were graded statistically worse than the gold standard (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The use of helical CT with a 5 mm beam collimation and a pitch of 1.0 or 1.5 reconstructed twice to maximize both the mediastinal and the lung parenchymal detail provides the optimal way to routinely evaluate the chest.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging