Traumatic joint fractures successfully imaged with ultra-low dose CT

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NYU Langone researchers have reported that they are scanning traumatic joint fractures with one-fourteenth the radiation commonly used for CTs of such injuries and without significant falloff in image quality or diagnostic utility.  

Presenting their work March 2 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in Orlando, Sanjit Konda, MD, and colleagues said they compared scans of 50 symptomatic patients imaged with an experimental ultra-low dose protocol against standard CT scans taken from an age-matched patient sample with similar fracture injuries.

In the low-dose group, the researchers successfully reduced the average radiation dose for joint CT from 0.43 msV to 0.03 msV—the latter being equivalent to that of a routine chest x-ray—while achieving 98 percent sensitivity and 89 percent specificity.

Orthopedic surgeons participating in the study rated the ultra-low dose scans from moderate to near-perfect, according to an NYU news release.

The school says the research group had previously applied this protocol to examine air around knee joints susceptible to infections.

“Its application was so successful that the researchers set out to use the protocol to reduce radiation for traumatic joint fractures, such as those caused by a car accident or fall,” NYU reports.

Kenneth Egol, MD, chief of orthopedic trauma surgery at NYU Langone, says in the release that the success of the experiment demonstrates the “comprehensive capabilities of this protocol.”

Konda adds that providing patients with a CT scan with 14 times less radiation “could have significant implications from a public health and safety standpoint.”

NYU says the team plans to follow up with the studied patients in hopes of expanding the ultra-low dose protocol to other departments.