OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to compare the image quality of abdominal computed tomography scans in an anthropomorphic phantom acquired at different radiation dose levels where each raw data set is reconstructed with both a standard convolution filtered back projection (FBP) and a full model-based iterative reconstruction (MBIR) algorithm.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: An anthropomorphic phantom in 3 sizes was used with a custom-built liver insert simulating late hepatic arterial enhancement and containing hypervascular liver lesions of various sizes. Imaging was performed on a 64-section multidetector-row computed tomography scanner (Discovery CT750 HD; GE Healthcare, Waukesha, WI) at 3 different tube voltages for each patient size and 5 incrementally decreasing tube current-time products for each tube voltage. Quantitative analysis consisted of contrast-to-noise ratio calculations and image noise assessment. Qualitative image analysis was performed by 3 independent radiologists rating subjective image quality and lesion conspicuity.
RESULTS: Contrast-to-noise ratio was significantly higher and mean image noise was significantly lower on MBIR images than on FBP images in all patient sizes, at all tube voltage settings, and all radiation dose levels (P < 0.05). Overall image quality and lesion conspicuity were rated higher for MBIR images compared with FBP images at all radiation dose levels. Image quality and lesion conspicuity on 25% to 50% dose MBIR images were rated equal to full-dose FBP images.
CONCLUSION: This phantom study suggests that depending on patient size, clinically acceptable image quality of the liver in the late hepatic arterial phase can be achieved with MBIR at approximately 50% lower radiation dose compared with FBP.