CT artifacts induced by orthopedic implants can limit image quality and diagnostic yield. As a number of different strategies to reduce artifact extent exist, the aim of this study was to systematically compare ex vivo the impact of different CT metal artifact reduction (MAR) strategies on spine implants made of either standard titanium or carbon-fiber-reinforced-polyetheretherketone (CFR-PEEK).
Spine surgeons fluoroscopically-guided prepared six sheep spine cadavers with pedicle screws and rods of either titanium or CFR-PEEK. Samples were subjected to single- and dual-energy (DE) CT-imaging. Different tube voltages (80, DE mixed, 120 and tin-filtered 150 kVp) at comparable radiation dose and iterative reconstruction versus monoenergetic extrapolation (ME) techniques were compared. Also, the influence of image reconstruction kernels (soft vs. bone tissue) was investigated. Qualitative (Likert scores) and quantitative parameters (attenuation changes induced by implant artifact, implant diameter and image noise) were evaluated by two independent radiologists. Artifact degree of different MAR-strategies and implant materials were compared by multiple ANOVA analysis.
CFR-PEEK implants induced markedly less artifacts than standard titanium implants (p < .001). This effect was substantially larger than any other tested MAR technique. Reconstruction algorithms had small impact in CFR-PEEK implants and differed significantly in MAR efficiency (p < .001) with best MAR performance for DECT ME 130 keV (bone kernel). Significant differences in image noise between reconstruction kernels were seen (p < .001) with minor impact on artifact degree.
CFR-PEEK spine implants induce significantly less artifacts than standard titanium compositions with higher MAR efficiency than any alternate scanning or image reconstruction strategy. DECT ME 130 keV image reconstructions showed least metal artifacts. Reconstruction kernels primarily modulate image noise with minor impact on artifact degree.