Dependence of Water-equivalent Diameter and Size-specific Dose Estimates on CT Tube Potential

Cynthia H. McCollough, Shannon L. McCollough, Justine J. Schneider, Taylor R. Moen, Jayse M. Weaver, Thomas J. Vrieze, Lifeng Yu, Shuai Leng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The size-specific dose estimate (SSDE) is a patient-focused CT dose metric. However, published size-dependent conversion factors (fsize) used to calculate SSDE were determined primarily by using phantoms; only eight to 15 patient data sets were used, all at 120 kV. Purpose: To determine the effect of different tube potentials on the water-equivalent diameter (WED) and SSDE for patient CT scans of the head, chest, and abdomen. Materials and Methods: This retrospective study used 250 noncontrast CT scans acquired between March 2013 and June 2017. Bony structures were segmented, and their CT numbers were modified to reflect bone attenuation at 70, 90, 110, 130, and 150 kV. Soft-tissue CT numbers were unchanged because of negligible energy dependence. fsize was measured in anthropomorphic phantoms for each tube potential and fit to an exponential function. WED and SSDE were determined for each patient at all tube potentials, regression analysis was performed relative to the WED and SSDE at 120 kV, and mean differences relative to 120 kV were calculated. Results: In 250 patients (median age, 21.5 years; interquartile range, 44 years; 130 women), WED for all tube potentials was linearly related to the WED at 120 kV in all body regions (R2 = 0.995-1.000). The effect of tube potential on WED was negligible for torso examinations (Cohen d, 0.05). In the head, a medium effect size was observed at 70 kV; however, the mean absolute difference in WED was small (20.49 cm 6 0.08 [standard deviation]; P < .001). For commonly used combinations of tube potential and patient size, the mean differences in SSDE at alternative tube potentials relative to SSDE at 120 kV were less than 5%. Conclusion: At noncontrast CT, published size-dependent conversion factors accurately determined size-specific dose estimates on 250 patient scans at five tube potentials other than 120 kV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-411
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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