Radiation dose optimization for photon-counting CT coronary artery calcium scoring for different patient sizes: a dynamic phantom study

Magdalena M Dobrolinska, Niels R van der Werf*, Judith van der Bie, Joël de Groen, Marcel Dijkshoorn, Ronald Booij, Ricardo P J Budde, Marcel J W Greuter, Marcel van Straten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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PURPOSE: To systematically assess the radiation dose reduction potential of coronary artery calcium (CAC) assessments with photon-counting computed tomography (PCCT) by changing the tube potential for different patient sizes with a dynamic phantom.

METHODS: A hollow artery, containing three calcifications of different densities, was translated at velocities corresponding to 0, < 60, 60-75, and > 75 beats per minute within an anthropomorphic phantom. Extension rings were used to simulate average- and large -sized patients. PCCT scans were made with the reference clinical protocol (tube potential of 120 kilovolt (kV)), and with 70, 90, Sn100, Sn140, and 140 kV at identical image quality levels. All acquisitions were reconstructed at a virtual monoenergetic energy level of 70 keV. For each calcification, Agatston scores and contrast-to-noise ratios (CNR) were determined, and compared to the reference with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests, with p < 0.05 indicating significant differences.

RESULTS: A decrease in radiation dose (22%) was achieved at Sn100 kV for the average-sized phantom. For the large phantom, Sn100 and Sn140 kV resulted in a decrease in radiation doses of 19% and 3%, respectively. Irrespective of CAC density, Sn100 and 140 kVp did not result in significantly different CNR. Only at Sn100 kV were there no significant differences in Agatston scores for all CAC densities, heart rates, and phantom sizes.

CONCLUSION: PCCT at tube voltage of 100 kV with added tin filtration and reconstructed at 70 keV enables a ≥ 19% dose reduction compared to 120 kV, independent of phantom size, CAC density, and heart rate.

KEY POINTS: • Photon-counting CT allows for reduced radiation dose acquisitions (up to 19%) for coronary calcium assessment by reducing tube voltage while reconstructing at a normal monoE level of 70 keV. • Tube voltage reduction is possible for medium and large patient sizes, without affecting the Agatston score outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4668-4675
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2023


  • Humans
  • Calcium
  • Coronary Vessels/diagnostic imaging
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed/methods
  • Calcinosis
  • Phantoms, Imaging

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