Purpose An imaging facility with a diverse fleet of CT scanners faces considerable challenges when propagating CT protocols with consistent image quality and patient dose across scanner makes and models. Although some protocol parameters can comfortably remain constant among scanners (eg, tube voltage, gantry rotation time), the automatic exposure control (AEC) parameter, which selects the overall mA level during tube current modulation, is difficult to match among scanners, especially from different CT manufacturers. Methods Objective methods for converting tube current modulation protocols among CT scanners were developed. Three CT scanners were investigated, a GE LightSpeed 16 scanner, a GE VCT scanner, and a Siemens Definition AS+ scanner. Translation of the AEC parameters such as noise index and quality reference mAs across CT scanners was specifically investigated. A variable-diameter poly(methyl methacrylate) phantom was imaged on the 3 scanners using a range of AEC parameters for each scanner. The phantom consisted of 5 cylindrical sections with diameters of 13, 16, 20, 25, and 32 cm. The protocol translation scheme was based on matching either the volumetric CT dose index or image noise (in Hounsfield units) between two different CT scanners. A series of analytic fit functions, corresponding to different patient sizes (phantom diameters), were developed from the measured CT data. These functions relate the AEC metric of the reference scanner, the GE LightSpeed 16 in this case, to the AEC metric of a secondary scanner. Results When translating protocols between different models of CT scanners (from the GE LightSpeed 16 reference scanner to the GE VCT system), the translation functions were linear. However, a power-law function was necessary to convert the AEC functions of the GE LightSpeed 16 reference scanner to the Siemens Definition AS+ secondary scanner, because of differences in the AEC functionality designed by these two companies. Conclusions Protocol translation on the basis of quantitative metrics (volumetric CT dose index or measured image noise) is feasible. Protocol translation has a dependency on patient size, especially between the GE and Siemens systems. Translation schemes that preserve dose levels may not produce identical image quality.
- automatic exposure control
- CT protocols
- tube current modulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging