The effect of helical CT on X-ray attenuation

Kenneth D. Hopper, Christine A. Gouldy, Claudia J. Kasales, Thomas R. TenHave, Alicia L. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: Conventional CT has been shown to have wide variability in measured CT attenuation, both temporally within the same scanner and between different scanners. Many radiologists have raised the concern that the increased noise and multiple variables associated with helical CT may lead to degradation in resolution, specifically causing errors in CT number values. This study was designed to specifically evaluate the performance of both types of CT scanning in this regard. Method: A Picker PQ2000 helical CT scanner was used to scan a phantom containing multiple tissue-equivalent densities, allowing the measurement of CT attenuation of soft tissue, distilled water, cortical bone, medullary bone, air, and fat with a variety of techniques. A Catphan phantom was imaged with a variety of slice thicknesses (2, 4, and 8 mm), phantom positions (isocenter, y = +20 cm), and pitches (1.0, 1.5, 2.0) using both conventional and helical sequences. The entire image set was repeated with two additional annuli placed around the Catphan phantom to simulate the abdomen and the calvarium. The attenuation measurements of the same imaging parameters for helical versus conventional CT were statistically compared. Results: No statistical differences were found for the CT numbers based on scan type (conventional versus helical) for all sequences and gantry positions tested, including helical CT with pitches >1.0. Greater CT number variability was found with the extremes of tissue density such as with air and especially cortical bone, but were not statistically significant. The addition of the abdominal and calvarial annuli created a greater variation in CT attenuation values, but again were not statistically significant. Conclusion: The measurement of X-ray attenuation does not vary significantly with the use of the helical technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-155
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Tomography
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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