Coronary computed tomography angiography at 140 kV versus 120 kV: assessment of image quality and radiation exposure in overweight and moderately obese patients

Ashley M. Lee, Leif Christopher Engel, Gladwin C. Hui, Gary Liew, Maros Ferencik, Manavjot S. Sidhu, Udo Hoffmann, Brian B. Ghoshhajra

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    8 Scopus citations


    Background: Although a tube potential of 140 kV is available on most computed tomography (CT) scanners, its incremental diagnostic value versus 120 kV has been controversial. Purpose: To retrospectively evaluate the image quality and radiation exposure of cardiac computed tomography angiography (CCTA) performed at 140 kV in comparison to CCTA at 120 kV in overweight and moderately obese patients. Material and Methods: Eighty-eight patients who were referred for CCTA between January 2010 and May 2012 were included. Forty-four patients who were overweight or moderately obese (body mass index [BMI], 25-35 kg/m2) underwent CCTA with dual-source CT (DSCT) scanner at 140 kV. Forty-four match controls who underwent CCTA with DSCT at 120 kV were identified per BMI, average heart rate, scan indication, and scan acquisition mode. All scans were performed per routine protocols with direct physician supervision. Quantitative image metrics (CT attenuation, image noise, contrast-to-noise ratio [CNR], and signal-to-noise ratio [SNR] of left main [LM] and proximal right coronary artery [RCA]) were assessed. Effective radiation dose was compared between the two groups. Results: Overall, all scans were diagnostic without any non-evaluable coronary segment per clinical report. 140 kV had a lower attenuation and image noise versus 120 kV (P<0.01). Both SNR and CNR of proximal coronary arteries were similar between 140 kV and 120 kV (SNR, LM P=0.93, RCA P=0.62; CNR, LM P=0.57, RCA P=0.77). 140 kV was associated with a 35.3% increase in effective radiation dose as compared with 120 kV (5.1 [3.6-8.2] vs. 3.3 [2.0-5.1] mSv, respectively; P<0.01). Conclusion: 140 kV CCTA resulted in similar image quality but a higher effective radiation dose in comparison to 120 kV CCTA. Therefore, in overweight and moderately obese patients, a tube potential of 120 kV may be sufficient for CCTA with diagnostic image quality.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)554-562
    Number of pages9
    JournalActa Radiologica
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Jun 2014



    • Adult
    • CT
    • CT angiography
    • Cardiac
    • Dosimetry
    • Radiation safety

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
    • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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