Conversion factor for size specific dose estimation of head CT scans based on age, for individuals from 0 up to 18 years old

Edilaine Honorio da Silva, Oswaldo Baffa, Jorge Elias, Nico Buls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Assessing the radiation doses received by patients in computed tomography is still challenging. To overcome this, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine has introduced the concept of the size specific dose estimate (SSDE). However, the calculation of SSDE for head CT scans requires the knowledge of attenuation characteristics of the volume scanned, making its implementation in the daily clinical workflow cumbersome. In this study, we defined conversion coefficients from CTDIvol,16cm to SSDE for head CT scans based solely on the age of the patient. Using the head circumference-for-age from the child growth standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), the effective diameter-for-age was calculated for male and female individuals from 0 to 60 months-old. The effective diameter was converted into a water equivalent diameter-for-age, using a correlation established from the measurements of both quantities in 295 exams of male and female patients, from 0 to 18 years-old. WHO-estimated water equivalent diameter-for-age was validated against the measured water equivalent diameter-for-age. The head circumference-for-age from WHO was extrapolated for male and females individuals up to 18 years-old and their respective water equivalent diameter were estimated. Finally, the SSDE was calculated for all the CT head scans performed in a 9-years period in patients aged from 0 to 18 years old. Typical values of CTDIvol,16cm and DLP were also defined. SSDE varied from 0.80 up to 1.16 of the CTDIvol,16cm, depending on sex and age of the patient. WHO-estimated water equivalent diameter-for-age differed less than 20% from the measured water equivalent diameter-for-age. Typical values of SSDE varied from 28.5 up to 38.9 mGy, while typical values ranged from 30.9 up to 47.6 mGy for the CTDIvol,16cm and from 417.6 up to 861.1 mGy∗cm for the DLP. SSDE can be directly calculated for head CT scans once the age of the patient is known.

Original languageEnglish
Article number085011
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number8
Early online date11 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.


  • radiation doses
  • computed tomography
  • SSDE

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