Estimating lung, breast, and effective dose from low-dose lung cancer screening CT exams with tube current modulation across a range of patient sizes

Anthony J. Hardy, Maryam Bostani, Kyle McMillan, Maria Zankl, Cynthia McCollough, Chris Cagnon, Michael McNitt-Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to estimate the radiation dose to the lung and breast as well as the effective dose from tube current modulated (TCM) lung cancer screening (LCS) scans across a range of patient sizes. Methods: Monte Carlo (MC) methods were used to calculate lung, breast, and effective doses from a low-dose LCS protocol for a 64-slice CT that used TCM. Scanning parameters were from the protocols published by AAPM's Alliance for Quality CT. To determine lung, breast, and effective doses from lung cancer screening, eight GSF/ICRP voxelized phantom models with all radiosensitive organs identified were used to estimate lung, breast, and effective doses. Additionally, to extend the limited size range provided by the GSF/ICRP phantom models, 30 voxelized patient models of thoracic anatomy were generated from LCS patient data. For these patient models, lung and breast were semi-automatically segmented. TCM schemes for each of the GSF/ICRP phantom models were generated using a validated method wherein tissue attenuation and scanner limitations were used to determine the TCM output as a function of table position and source angle. TCM schemes for voxelized patient models were extracted from the raw projection data. The water equivalent diameter, Dw, was used as the patient size descriptor. Dw was estimated for the GSF/ICRP models. For the thoracic patient models, Dw was extracted from the DICOM header of the CT localizer radiograph. MC simulations were performed using the TCM scheme for each model. Absolute organ doses were tallied and effective doses were calculated using ICRP 103 tissue weighting factors for the GSF/ICRP models. Metrics of scanner radiation output were determined based on each model's TCM scheme, including CTDIvol, dose length product (DLP), and CTDIvol, Low Att, a previously described regional metric of scanner output covering most of the lungs and breast. All lung and breast doses values were normalized by scan-specific CTDIvol and CTDIvol, Low Att. Effective doses were normalized by scan-specific CTDIvol and DLP. Absolute and normalized doses were reported as a function of Dw. Results: Lung doses normalized by CTDIvol, Low Att were modeled as an exponential relationship with respect to Dw with coefficients of determination (R2) of 0.80. Breast dose normalized by CTDIvol, Low Att was modeled with an exponential relationship to Dw with an R2 of 0.23. For all eight GSF/ICRP phantom models, the effective dose using TCM protocols was below 1.6 mSv. Effective doses showed some size dependence but when normalized by DLP demonstrated a constant behavior. Conclusion: Lung, breast, and effective doses from LCS CT exams with TCM were estimated with respect to patient size. Normalized lung dose can be reasonably estimated with a measure of a patient size such as Dw and regional metric of CTDIvol covering the thorax such as CTDIvol, Low Att, while normalized breast dose can also be estimated with a regional metric of CTDIvol but with a larger degree of variability than observed for lung. Effective dose normalized by DLP can be estimated with a constant multiplier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4667-4682
Number of pages16
JournalMedical physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Monte Carlo simulations
  • breast dose
  • computed tomography
  • effective dose
  • lung cancer screening
  • lung dose
  • tube current modulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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