CT depiction of pulmonary emboli: Display window settings

Kyongtae T. Bae, Cita N. Mody, Dennis M. Balfe, Sanjeev Bhalla, David S. Gierada, Fernando R. Gutierrez, Christine O. Menias, Pamela K. Woodard, Jin Mo Goo, Charles F. Hildebolt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To compare computed tomographic (CT) window settings selected by radiologists with those determined by using two alternative approaches for depiction of pulmonary emboli (PE). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Institutional review board approval was obtained; informed consent was not required. This study was compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Twenty-five clinical chest CT studies were obtained with a standardized PE protocol and retrospectively evaluated by five chest and two body CT radiologists. Of these studies, 13 were positive for PE, and 12 were negative. At the main pulmonary artery (PA), mean attenuations (MPA) and standard deviations (SDPA) were measured. Initially, images were displayed with a standard mediastinal window setting (window width, W = 400 HU; window center, C = 30 HU), and each observer adjusted the setting to a personally preferred setting (eg, "personal") for PE detection. Images displayed at this setting were compared in a side-by-side fashion with the "modified" (W = MPA + 2 · SDPA, C = W/2) and "double-half" (W = 2 · MPA, C = MPA/2) window setting. Each observer rated images from 1 (ie, most preferred) to 3 (ie, least preferred). For quantitative analysis, window width and center value of each setting were divided by corresponding MPA to compute a width ratio and a center ratio. Window settings and ratings were compared with repeated-measures analysis of variance, paired t tests, and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. RESULTS: Ratings for all three types of window settings were significantly different (P < .001). Observers preferred their personal settings the most and the modified settings the least. Mean ratios for the seven observers were 1.68 ± 0.20 for window width and 0.47 ± 0.08 for window center. Window width ratios for all settings were significantly different from each other (P < .001). Window center ratios were significantly higher for the modified setting than for the double-half setting (P = .013). Values for mean PA attenuation were correlated with window width ratios for six (86%) observers (mean r2 value = 0.29 ± 0.19, P ≤ .03) and with window center ratios for four (57%) observers (mean r2 value = 0.16 ± 0.14, P ≤ .02), thus indicating a trend of setting window width and window center higher when contrast enhancement is lower and vice versa. CONCLUSION: On average, observers selected CT window settings for PE detection at a window width of slightly less than twice the mean PA attenuation and at a window center of about half the mean PA attenuation. Observers tended to use larger window widths and centers as the degree of PA enhancement was lower.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-684
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005


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