Dual-Energy CT Images: Pearls and Pitfalls
Radiographics . Jan-Feb 2021;41(1):98-119. doi: 10.1148/rg.2021200102.
Anushri Parakh, Simon Lennartz, Chansik An, Prabhakar Rajiah, Benjamin M Yeh, Frank J Simeone, Dushyant V Sahani, Avinash R Kambadakone
Dual-energy CT (DECT) is a tremendous innovation in CT technology that allows creation of numerous imaging datasets by enabling discrete acquisitions at more than one energy level. The wide range of images generated from a single DECT acquisition provides several benefits such as improved lesion detection and characterization, superior determination of material composition, reduction in the dose of iodine, and more robust quantification. Technological advances and the proliferation of various processing methods have led to the availability of diverse vendor-based DECT approaches, each with a different acquisition and image reconstruction process. The images generated from various DECT scanners differ from those from conventional single-energy CT because of differences in their acquisition techniques, material decomposition methods, image reconstruction algorithms, and postprocessing methods. DECT images such as virtual monochromatic images, material density images, and virtual unenhanced images have different imaging appearances, texture features, and quantitative capabilities. This heterogeneity creates challenges in their routine interpretation and has certain associated pitfalls. Some artifacts such as residual iodine on virtual unenhanced images and an appearance of pseudopneumatosis in a gas-distended bowel loop on material-density iodine images are specific to DECT, while others such as pseudoenhancement seen on virtual monochromatic images are also observed at single-energy CT. Recognizing the potential pitfalls associated with DECT is necessary for appropriate and accurate interpretation of the results of this increasingly important imaging tool.
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