Quantitative Prediction of Stone Fragility From Routine Dual Energy CT: Ex vivo proof of Feasibility

Andrea Ferrero, Juan C. Montoya, Lisa E. Vaughan, Alice E. Huang, Ian O. McKeag, Felicity T. Enders, James C. Williams, Cynthia H. McCollough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Rationale and Objectives Previous studies have demonstrated a qualitative relationship between stone fragility and internal stone morphology. The goal of this study was to quantify morphologic features from dual-energy computed tomography (CT) images and assess their relationship to stone fragility. Materials and Methods Thirty-three calcified urinary stones were scanned with micro-CT. Next, they were placed within torso-shaped water phantoms and scanned with the dual-energy CT stone composition protocol in routine use at our institution. Mixed low- and high-energy images were used to measure volume, surface roughness, and 12 metrics describing internal morphology for each stone. The ratios of low- to high-energy CT numbers were also measured. Subsequent to imaging, stone fragility was measured by disintegrating each stone in a controlled ex vivo experiment using an ultrasonic lithotripter and recording the time to comminution. A multivariable linear regression model was developed to predict time to comminution. Results The average stone volume was 300 mm3 (range: 134–674 mm3). The average comminution time measured ex vivo was 32 seconds (range: 7–115 seconds). Stone volume, dual-energy CT number ratio, and surface roughness were found to have the best combined predictive ability to estimate comminution time (adjusted R2 = 0.58). The predictive ability of mixed dual-energy CT images, without use of the dual-energy CT number ratio, to estimate comminution time was slightly inferior, with an adjusted R2 of 0.54. Conclusions Dual-energy CT number ratios, volume, and morphologic metrics may provide a method for predicting stone fragility, as measured by time to comminution from ultrasonic lithotripsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1545-1552
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic radiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Kidney calculi
  • Lithotripsy
  • X-ray computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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