Introduction: To design a custom phantom of the coronary arteries to optimize CT coronary angiography (CCTA) protocols. Methods: Characteristics of the left and right coronary arteries (mean Hounsfield Unit (HU) values and diameters) were collected from consecutive CCTA examinations (n = 43). Four different materials (two mixtures of glycerine, gelatine and water, pig hearts, Ecoflex™ silicone) were scanned inside a Lungman phantom using the CCTA protocol to find the closest model to in vivo data. A 3D printed model of the coronary artery tree was created using CCTA data by exporting a CT volume rendering into Autodesk Meshmixer™ software. The model was placed in an acid bath for 5 h, then covered in Ecoflex™, which was removed after drying. Both the Ecoflex™ and pig heart were later filled with a mixture of contrast (Visipaque 320 mg I/ml), NaCl and gelatin and scanned with different levels of tube current and iterative reconstruction (ASiR-V). Objective (HU, noise and size (vessel diameter) and subjective analysis were performed on all scans. Results: The gelatine mixtures had HU values of 130 and 129, Ecoflex™ 65 and the pig heart 56. At the different mA/ASiR-V levels the contrast filled Ecoflex™ had a mean HU 318 ± 4, noise 47±7HU and diameter of 4.4 mm. The pig heart had a mean HU of 209 ± 5, noise 38±4HU and a diameter of 4.4 mm. With increasing iterative reconstruction level the visualisation of the pig heart arteries decreased so no measurements could be performed. Conclusion: The use of a 3D printed model of the arteries and casting with the Ecoflex™ silicone is the most suitable solution for a custom-designed phantom. Implications for practice: Custom designed phantoms using 3D printing technology enable cost effective optimisation of CT protocols.
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© 2021 The College of Radiographers
- Computed tomography
- Image quality
- Iterative reconstruction
- Patient safety
- Three-dimensional printing