Dual Energy applications are a hot topic among our member facilities in CT. The quote activity we see from member hospitals shows an increased interest in Dual Energy CT. Many facilities that I have recently spoken with are asking what exactly Dual Energy CT is and what advantages the technology might offer.
What is Dual Energy?
Dual Energy CT can process both diagnostic and material decomposition images. This is accomplished through fast switching between two kilovoltage settings during a single rotation of the CT gantry to generate high- and low-energy x-ray spectra. Typically these systems are using 80 and 140 kVp, which allows the system to produce additional datasets that provide a more accurate diagnosis to the physician through the difference in attenuation at different photon energies that are picked up by the detector. At this time Dual Energy CT is available in CT systems that are 128-slice and higher. These systems are offered through all of the major vendors in the CT market.
What are the advantages of Dual Energy?
Dual Energy CT has many advantages, one of which is that the images are less affected by beam hardening artifacts and provide more accurate CT numbers than single-energy CT images. Other advantages include improved detection and characterization of lesions. This is due to the availability of higher signal to noise images that are provided by the 80 kVp acquisition. In the oncology space, Dual Energy improves tumor staging and evaluation of treatment response. Many vendors tout an increase in workflow as well as a decrease in exam time, radiation dose, and IV contrast usage.