A systematic procedure to optimise dose and image quality for the measurement of inter-vertebral angles from lateral spinal projections using Cobb and superimposition methods

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Al Qaroot, B ; Hogg, P ; Twiste, M ; Howard, D

BACKGROUND: Patients with vertebral column deformations are exposed to high risks associated with ionising radiation exposure. Risks are further increased due to the serial X-ray images that are needed to measure and asses their spinal deformation using Cobb or superimposition methods. Therefore, optimising such X-ray practice, via reducing dose whilst maintaining image quality, is a necessity.\ud \ud OBJECTIVES: With a specific focus on lateral thoraco-lumbar images for Cobb and superimposition measurements, this paper outlines a systematic procedure to the optimisation of X-ray practice.\ud \ud METHODS: Optimisation was conducted based on suitable image quality from minimal dose. Image quality was appraised using a visual-analogue-rating-scale, and Monte-Carlo modelling was used for dose estimation. The optimised X-ray practice was identified by imaging healthy normal-weight male adult living human volunteers.\ud \ud RESULTS: The optimised practice consisted of: anode towards the head, broad focus, no OID or grid, 80 kVp, 32 mAs and 130 cm SID.\ud \ud CONCLUSION: Images of suitable quality for laterally assessing spinal conditions using Cobb or superimposition measurements were produced from an effective dose of 0.05 mSv, which is 83% less than the average effective dose used in the UK for lateral thoracic/lumbar exposures. This optimisation procedure can be adopted and use for optimisation of other radiographic techniques.\ud \ud KEYWORDS: Cobb method; Optimisation of X-ray imaging; exposure dose reduction; image quality preservation; lateral thoraco-lumbar imaging; superimposition method
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