By Dr. Amit Gupta
Dual-energy spectral CT delivers more data for precise interpretations and more confident diagnoses, so you can improve patient care.
Ultimately, radiologists are trying to solve a “puzzle” of figuring out what’s the root cause of the ailment for patients and the best way to treat it. To do that, they need to acquire the best images or pictures of what’s happening inside the patient. With spectral CT, low and high X-ray energies are registered separately on an image, so radiologists can see more on that image than they would from a standard, single-energy CT scan.
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Essentially, spectral CT provides radiologists with more data and more insight. This enables greater clarity for radiologists to find things that aren’t visible on an ordinary scan – things that they may not even have been looking for, but that might be significant in helping to determine the patient’s diagnosis. Better insight and visibility means more confident diagnoses and, in many cases, it means definitive diagnoses, eliminating the guesswork in image reading. As radiologists, that is our goal: to overcome imaging obstacles so that we can improve diagnostic confidence, treatment efficiency and streamline workflows to positively impact patient care and healthcare overall. Spectral CT helps us do that more quickly and more accurately than ever before.
Why are two energies better than one?
To understand the benefits of dual-energy spectral CT in enabling a confident diagnosis, you must first understand the more technical difference between single-energy and dual-energy. Standard or single-energy CT depends on the mass density of a material, so materials having different elemental compositions are represented by identical pixel values on a CT image because the attenuation coefficient is not unique for any given material. Some diagnoses can be challenging with standard CT since there is no distinction between materials such as calcium or iodinated contrast.
With dual-energy spectral CT, an additional attenuation measurement is obtained with a second X-ray spectrum, allowing the differentiation of multiple materials. Spectral CT’s unique two-layer detector provides an upper layer that captures the low energy photons, and the lower layer that captures the high-energy photons. This enables low- and high-energy photons to be registered separately, which provides a completely new set of images and unprecedented levels of insight.
How does spectral benefit patients?