Objective: Scanning protocols for conventional CT of the liver have been proposed. Current availability of helical CT with a four- to sixfold decrease in scan time requires significant adjustments in these protocols. The present study assesses the implications of time-density curves on the performance of helical liver CT. Materials and Methods: Twenty patients without liver lesions were studied for time-density analysis of the aorta, inferior vena cava (IVC), portal vein, and liver. Scans were performed at the level of the portal vein at baseline and every 15 s for 3 min following uniphasic administration of 150 ml (300 mg I/ml) nonionic contrast agent. Regions of interest were used to measure three areas in each anatomic structure over time. Median and mean peak enhancement times were calculated for all 20 patients. Cubic spline interpretation was employed to determine the point of equilibrium. Results: Results demonstrated the following average maximum enhancement values and times for peak enhancement: Aorta: 227 HU (75 s); liver: 123 HU (105 s); portal vein: 187 HU (90 s); IVC: 142 HU (90 s). Hepatic enhancement achieved 67 HU over baseline. Peak portal enhancement occurred 15 s prior to liver enhancement (p = 0.001). Aortic and hepatic curves became parallel (onset of equilibrium) at a median time of 120 s. Conclusion: Helical scanning requires a longer delay (70-80 s) than used for conventional CT. Upon application of these principles, scan initiation occurs higher on the liver enhancement curve, improving liver enhancement without impinging on equilibrium.
- Computed tomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging