New Ultra-low Dose CT Promises a More Accurate Diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis

By Petrina Smith
Thursday, 07 November, 2013

Australian radiologists are using tomorrow's International Day of Radiology to unveil the results of research into a new ultra-low dose CT technique that promises a more accurate diagnosis of cystic fibrosis with significantly reduced radiation risks.


Assessing cystic fibrosis has provided a challenge as conventional chest X-rays deliver only limited radiological information in contrast to conventional CT scans, and therefore, may not guide clinicians in making correct treatment decisions.
Research presented at the RANZCR annual scientific meeting in Auckland in October showcased an “ultra low dose” CT scanning technique that has been shown to be effective in detecting symptoms of cystic fibrosis in 57 patients studied at Monash Health in Melbourne. This lower dose CT method which is approximately 50-60 times less radiation than a traditional CT, accurately detected varying degrees of lung disease including types and extent of bronchiectasis, mucous plugging, associated pneumonia, lung collapses, lung abscesses and pneumothorax.   These results are on par with what is detected via a conventional chest CT while a chest x-ray would not show so nearly as many relevant lung details.
According to RANZCR member Associate Professor Ken Lau from Monash Health, the new “model based iterative technique” enables far lower radiation dose, reduces image noise, and therefore, improves image quality. He says it promises much for cystic fibrosis management in the future.
“There are new therapies for cystic fibrosis – including gene therapy - being developed all the time." So, a CT scan that delivers an ultra-low dose of radiation and reliable result could be a crucial diagnostic tool for cystic fibrosis in the future. "This CT technique may appropriately apply for other conditions, particularly in young patients,” Associate Professor Lau said.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a multisystem, life-limiting disorder that affects 1 in 3200-3300 newborns. The leading causes of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis are chronic restrictive and obstructive pulmonary disease that develops in response to persistent infection and inflammation.
The purpose of the International Day of Radiology (IDOR) tomorrow ( 8th November) is to build greater awareness of the value that radiological research, diagnosis and treatment can contribute to safe patient care. It also seeks to build greater appreciation of the vital role radiologists perform in the healthcare continuum.
The focus of IDOR in 2013 is on Imaging and Lung Disease.
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