Abdominal Radiology

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 1019–1026 | Cite as

Rapid kVp switching dual-energy CT in the assessment of urolithiasis in patients with large body habitus: preliminary observations on image quality and stone characterization

  • Hamed Kordbacheh
  • Vinit Baliyan
  • Pranit Singh
  • Brian H. Eisner
  • Dushyant V. Sahani
  • Avinash R KambadakoneEmail author



The purpose of this study was to investigate the image quality (IQ) considerations of rapid kVp switching dual-energy CT (rsDECT) in the assessment of urolithiasis in patients with large body habitus and to evaluate whether it allows stone characterization.

Materials and methods

In this IRB-approved, HIPAA compliant retrospective study, 93 consecutive patients (M/F = 72/21, mean age 56.9 years, range 23–83 years) with large body habitus (> 90 kg/198 lbs) who underwent dual-energy (DE) stone protocol CT on a rapid kVp switching DECT scanner between January 2013 and December 2016 were included. Scan acquisition protocol included an initial unenhanced single-energy CT (SECT) scan of KUB followed by targeted DECT in the region of stones. Two readers evaluated both CT data sets (axial 5 mm 120 kVp/140 kVp QC/70 keV monoenergetic, material density water/iodine images and coronal/sagittal 3 mm images) for the assessment of image quality (Scores: 1–4) and characterization of stone composition (reference standard: crystallography).


One hundred and five CT examinations were performed in 93 patients (mean body weight 105.12 ± 13.53 kg, range 91–154 kg), and a total of 321 urinary tract calculi (mean size-4.8 ± 3.2 mm, range 1.2–22 mm) were detected. Both SECT and targeted monoenergetic images were of acceptable image quality (mean IQ: 3.77 and 3.83, kappa 0.79 and 0.87 respectively). Material density water and iodine images had lower IQ scores (mean IQ: 2.97 and 3.09 respectively) with image quality deterioration due to severe photon starvation/streak artifacts in 20% (21/105) and 17% (18/105) scans, respectively. Characterization of stone composition into uric acid/non-uric acid stones was achieved in 93.14% (299/321) of calculi (mean size: 4.99 ± 3.3 mm, range 1.2–22 mm), while 7% (22/321) stones could not be characterized (mean size 3.03 ± 1.16 mm, range 1.6–6.4 mm) (p < 0.001). Most common reason for non-characterization was image quality deterioration of the material density iodine images due to severe photon starvation artifacts. On multivariate regression, stone size and patient weight were predictors of stone composition determination on DECT (p < 0.05). The transverse diameter had a weak negative correlation with stone composition determination, but it was not statistically significant. Stone characterization into uric acid vs. non-uric acid stones was accurate in 95% (n = 38/40) of stones in comparison with crystallography.


In patients with large body habitus, rsDECT allowed characterization of most calculi (93%) despite image quality deterioration due to photon starvation/streak artifacts in up to 20% of material density images. Stone size and patient weight were predictors of stone composition determination on DECT, and small calculi in very large patients may not be characterized.


Rapid kVp switching dual energy CT Urolithiasis Large body habitus 


Compliance with ethical standards


There is no source of funding for this original article. The author identifying information is on the title page that is separate from the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

Hamed Kordbacheh, MD, declares he has no conflict of interest; Vinit Baliyan, MD, declares he has no conflict of interest; Pranit Singh declares he has no conflict of interest; Brian H Eisner, MD, declares he has no conflict of interest; Dushyant V Sahani, MD, recieves grant support for research activities from GE healthcare, Advisory Board of Allena Pharmaceuticals, Royalties from Elsevier; Avinash R Kambadakone, MD, FRCR, declares he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of UrologyMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyMassachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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