Utility of single-energy and dual-energy computed tomography in clot characterization: An in-vitro study

Waleed Brinjikji, Gregory Michalak, Ramanathan Kadirvel, Daying Dai, Michael Gilvarry, Sharon Duffy, David F. Kallmes, Cynthia McCollough, Shuai Leng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background and purpose Because computed tomography (CT) is the most commonly used imaging modality for the evaluation of acute ischemic stroke patients, developing CT-based techniques for improving clot characterization could prove useful. The purpose of this in-vitro study was to determine which single-energy or dual-energy CT techniques provided optimum discrimination between red blood cell (RBC) and fibrin-rich clots. Materials and methods Seven clot types with varying fibrin and RBC densities were made (90% RBC, 99% RBC, 63% RBC, 36% RBC, 18% RBC and 0% RBC with high and low fibrin density) and their composition was verified histologically. Ten of each clot type were created and scanned with a second generation dual source scanner using three single (80 kV, 100 kV, 120 kV) and two dual-energy protocols (80/Sn 140 kV and 100/Sn 140 kV). A region of interest (ROI) was placed over each clot and mean attenuation was measured. Receiver operating characteristic curves were calculated at each energy level to determine the accuracy at differentiating RBC-rich clots from fibrin-rich clots. Results Clot attenuation increased with RBC content at all energy levels. Single-energy at 80 kV and 120 kV and dual-energy 80/Sn 140 kV protocols allowed for distinguishing between all clot types, with the exception of 36% RBC and 18% RBC. On receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, the 80/Sn 140 kV dual-energy protocol had the highest area under the curve for distinguishing between fibrin-rich and RBC-rich clots (area under the curve 0.99). Conclusions Dual-energy CT with 80/Sn 140 kV had the highest accuracy for differentiating RBC-rich and fibrin-rich in-vitro thrombi. Further studies are needed to study the utility of non-contrast dual-energy CT in thrombus characterization in acute ischemic stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-284
Number of pages6
JournalInterventional Neuroradiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Clot
  • computed tomography
  • dual energy
  • mechanical thrombectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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