CT-guided lumbar nerve root injections: Are we using the correct radiation dose settings?

J. S. Schauberger, P. G. Kranz, K. R. Choudhury, J. D. Eastwood, L. Gray, Jenny K. Hoang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Selecting a lower tube current for CT fluoroscopic spine injections is a method of radiation dose reduction. Ideally tube current should be tailored to the patient's body habitus, but a greater influence on tube current may be the proceduralist's personal preference. The purpose of this study was to compare tube current and fluoroscopy time of different proceduralists for lumbar spine CT-guided selective nerve root blocks, and to correlate image quality to patient diameter and tube current. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eighty CT-guided SNRBs performed by 4 proceduralists were retrospectively reviewed for tube current and fluoroscopy time. Patient body habitus was evaluated by measuring anteroposterior diameters on scout images. Image quality was evaluated objectively and subjectively: noise was measured in the psoas muscle and images were graded on a 3-point scale. RESULTS: The mean tube current was 59 ± 20 mA and mean fluoroscopy time was 10.4 ± 7.5 seconds. The mean tube current between proceduralists differed by almost 2-fold, and there was greater than 2-fold difference in mean fluoroscopy time (P < .0001 and .01, respectively). Mean AP body size was 27 ± 5 cm. When categoric data of tube current and AP diameter were analyzed, only AP diameter was a statistically significant variable influencing image noise (P = .009). Twenty of 23 patients with AP diameter ≤30 cm had adequate to excellent image quality, even with lower tube current of ≤40 mA. CONCLUSIONS: Wide variability in tube current selection between proceduralists calls for a more objective method of selecting tube current to minimize radiation dose. Body size, measured by AP diameter, had the greatest influence on image quality. This could be used to identify patients for lower tube current selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1855-1859
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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