Technical Note: kV-independent coronary calcium scoring: A phantom evaluation of score accuracy and potential radiation dose reduction

Shengzhen Tao, Emily Sheedy, Michael Bruesewitz, Nikkole Weber, Kyle Williams, Ahmed Halaweish, Bernhard Schmidt, Eric Williamson, Cynthia McCollough, Shuai Leng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To determine the accuracy of CT number and calcium score of a kV-independent technique based on an artificial 120 kV reconstruction, and its potential to reduce radiation dose. Methods: Anthropomorphic chest phantoms were scanned on a third-generation dual-source CT system equipped with the artificial 120 kV reconstruction. First, a phantom module containing a 20-mm diameter hydroxyapatite (HA) insert was scanned inside the chest phantoms at different tube potentials (70–140 kV) to evaluate calcium CT number accuracy. Next, three small HA inserts (diameter/length = 5 mm) were inserted into a pork steak and scanned inside the phantoms to evaluate calcium score accuracy at different kVs. Finally, the same setup was scanned using automatic exposure control (AEC) at 120 kV, and then with automatic kV selection (auto-kV). Phantoms were also scanned at 120 kV using a size-dependent mA chart. CT numbers of soft tissue and calcium were measured from different kV images. Calcium score of each small HA insert was measured using commercial software. Results: The CT number difference from 120 kV was small with tube potentials from 90 to 140 kV for both soft tissue and calcium (maximal difference of 4/5 HU, respectively). Consistent calcium scores were obtained from images of different kVs compared to 120 kV, with a relative difference <8%. Auto-kV provided a 25–34% dose reduction compared to AEC alone. Conclusion: A kV-independent calcium scoring technique can produce artificial 120 kV images with consistent soft tissue and calcium CT numbers compared to standard 120 kV examinations. When coupled with auto-kV, this technique can reduce radiation by 25–34% compared to that with AEC alone, while providing consistent calcium scores as that of standard 120 kV examinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1307-1314
Number of pages8
JournalMedical physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Agatston score
  • automatic exposure control
  • calcium score
  • cardiac CT
  • dose reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Technical Note: kV-independent coronary calcium scoring: A phantom evaluation of score accuracy and potential radiation dose reduction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this