Dual-energy CT for the evaluation of urinary calculi: Image interpretation, pitfalls and stone mimics

M. A. Jepperson, J. G. Cernigliaro, D. Sella, E. Ibrahim, D. D. Thiel, S. Leng, W. E. Haley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Urolithiasis is a common disease with a reported prevalence between 4% and 20% in developed countries. Determination of urinary calculi composition is a key factor in preoperative evaluation, treatment, and stone recurrence prevention. Prior to the introduction of dual-energy computed tomography (DECT), available methods for determining urinary stone composition were only available after stone extraction, and thereby unable to aid in optimized stone management prior to intervention. DECT utilizes the attenuation difference produced by two different x-ray energy spectra to quantify urinary calculi composition as uric acid or non-uric acid (with likely further classification in the future) while still providing the information attained with a conventional CT. Knowledge of DECT imaging pitfalls and stone mimics is important, as the added benefit of dual-energy analysis is the determination of stone composition, which in turn affects all aspects of stone management. This review briefly describes DECT principles, scanner types and acquisition protocols for the evaluation of urinary calculi as they relate to imaging pitfalls (inconsistent characterization of small stones, small dual-energy field of view, and mischaracterization from surrounding material) and stone mimics (drainage devices) that may adversely impact clinical decisions. We utilize our clinical experience from scanning over 1200 patients with this new imaging technique to present clinically relevant examples of imaging pitfalls and possible mechanisms for resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e707-e714
JournalClinical Radiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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