Low-dose CT for quantitative analysis in acute respiratory distress syndrome

Vittoria Vecchi, Thomas Langer*, Massimo Bellomi, Cristiano Rampinelli, Kevin K. Chung, Leopoldo C. Cancio, Luciano Gattinoni, Andriy I. Batchinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Introduction: The clinical use of serial quantitative computed tomography (CT) to characterize lung disease and guide the optimization of mechanical ventilation in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is limited by the risk of cumulative radiation exposure and by the difficulties and risks related to transferring patients to the CT room. We evaluated the effects of tube current-time product (mAs) variations on quantitative results in healthy lungs and in experimental ARDS in order to support the use of low-dose CT for quantitative analysis. Methods: In 14 sheep chest CT was performed at baseline and after the induction of ARDS via intravenous oleic acid injection. For each CT session, two consecutive scans were obtained applying two different mAs: 60 mAs was paired with 140, 15 or 7.5 mAs. All other CT parameters were kept unaltered (tube voltage 120 kVp, collimation 32 × 0.5 mm, pitch 0.85, matrix 512 × 512, pixel size 0.625 × 0.625 mm). Quantitative results obtained at different mAs were compared via Bland-Altman analysis. Results: Good agreement was observed between 60 mAs and 140 mAs and between 60 mAs and 15 mAs (all biases less than 1%). A further reduction of mAs to 7.5 mAs caused an increase in the bias of poorly aerated and nonaerated tissue (-2.9% and 2.4%, respectively) and determined a significant widening of the limits of agreement for the same compartments (-10.5% to 4.8% for poorly aerated tissue and -5.9% to 10.8% for nonaerated tissue). Estimated mean effective dose at 140, 60, 15 and 7.5 mAs corresponded to 17.8, 7.4, 2.0 and 0.9 mSv, respectively. Image noise of scans performed at 140, 60, 15 and 7.5 mAs corresponded to 10, 16, 38 and 74 Hounsfield units, respectively. Conclusions: A reduction of effective dose up to 70% has been achieved with minimal effects on lung quantitative results. Low-dose computed tomography provides accurate quantitative results and could be used to characterize lung compartment distribution and possibly monitor time-course of ARDS with a lower risk of exposure to ionizing radiation. A further radiation dose reduction is associated with lower accuracy in quantitative results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberR183
JournalCritical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - 31 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


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