Background and Purpose: Helical CT has become the preferred method for imaging urinary calculi, and so it would be useful if data from helical CT could also be used to predict the number of shockwaves (SWs) needed to break a given stone. Methods and Materials: We measured the number of SWs required to comminute calcium stones in vitro. Results: The SW requirement correlated with stone size (volume, weight, diameter) and with helical CT attenuation values when the scans were performed at 3-mm collimation. When CT scans were performed at 1 mm collimation, the number of SWs needed for comminution did not correlate with helicul CT attenuation values. This result indicates that the correlation with 3-mm scans was attributable to volume-averaging effects, in which smaller stones yield smaller attenuation values. That is, attenuation values from helical CT at larger beam collimation widths contain information about stone size that can be exploited to predict the fragility of calcium stones. We observed that for calcium stones, the number of SWs to comminution was generally less than half the stone CT attenuation value in Hounsfield units. This 'half-attenuation rule' predicted the number of SWs needed to complete fragmentatlon for 95% of calcium stones (24/24 calcium oxalate monohydrate, 13/13 hydroxyapatite, 8/10 brushite stones). Conclusion: This in vitro study suggests that it may be possible to predict effective SW dose using helical CT prior to lithotripsy.
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