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Imaging the Pancreas with Dual-Energy Computed Tomography

Advances in CT technology enable better detection and characterization of pancreas problems.

Mary Bates, Contributor
Tuesday, November 20, 2018


The development and implementation of dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) has expanded the potential for assessing various pancreatic issues, such as lesions and tumors. In a recent paper in the journal Current Radiology Reports, researchers from Harvard University review the clinical applications of DECT in pancreatic imaging.

The pancreas is an organ that acts as both an exocrine and endocrine gland, aiding in digestion and regulating blood sugar. Because it's located deep in the abdomen, detailed evaluation of pancreatic pathologies is a challenge.

DECT is a recently introduced computed tomography technique that uses two separate energy sets to create cross-sectional images. It has advantages over conventional CT imaging, including the ability to produce better pictures of blood vessels and reduce the number of scan images required to obtain the same information as a single energy imaging technique.

DECT has been shown to improve detection and characterization of various pancreatic conditions. In pancreatitis cases, DECT can help delineate between normal pancreas and necrotic areas, as well as detect complications such as hemorrhage and infection. DECT appears to be a more sensitive method for diagnosing pancreatic injuries and lacerations. And in pancreatic cancer, DECT enables easier detection and better characterization of lesions, which are often difficult to see on conventional CT.

Overall, the authors conclude that DECT is a promising new technique that improves tissue characterization, increases the conspicuousness of pancreatic lesions and aids in the detection of pancreatic tumors and injuries.