CT Urography : Efforts to Reduce the Radiation Dose

Abstract: Computed tomography urography (CTU) is today the imaging method used to investigate patients with suspected urinary tract malignancy, replacing the old imaging method intravenous pyelography (IVP) about a decade ago. The downside of this shift was that the effective radiation dose to the examined patient was eight times higher for CTU compared to IVP. Based on four different studies, the present thesis focused on efforts to reduce the CTU radiation dose. In study I, the number of cysts and solid lesions in the separate scan phases was evaluated in 57 patients undergoing four-phase CTU 1997-98. The number of scans was reduced from four to three when the nephrographic scan was abolished following study I.Study II registered the diameter of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and the presenting symptoms in the total number of patients (n=232) diagnosed with RCC between 1997 and 2003. The results from study II showed that the critical size for RCCs to cause macroscopic hematuria was ≥ 4 cm. Study III was a dose-escalation study aimed to decide the minimal possible tube load in the unenhanced and excretory phase scans if the low dose images are reviewed together with normal dose corticomedullary phase images. Study III showed that it is possible to reduce the mean effective dose in three phase CTU from 16.2 mSv to 9.4 mSv with a combined low and normal dose CTU protocol. Study IV investigated the changes in the CTU protocol between 1997 and 2008, and the development of the effective radiation dose. Study IV clarified how the CTU protocol has changed between 1997 and 2008 and as a result the mean effective radiation dose to patients undergoing CTU in 2008 is only 39% of the effective dose in 1997. In conclusion, the findings from the studies included in this thesis have contributed to a reduced radiation dose to patients undergoing CTU. The mean effective dose from CTU is at present only three times higher compared to that from the IVP.