Pitch (CT)

Last revised by Henry Knipe on 14 Mar 2024

Pitch (P) is a term used in helical CT with two terminologies depending on whether single slice or multislice CT scanners are used 1-3.

Single slice CT (SSCT)

The term detector pitch is the table distance traveled in one 360° gantry rotation divided by beam collimation 2.

For example, if the table traveled 5 mm in one rotation and the beam collimation was 5 mm, then pitch equals 5 mm / 5 mm = 1.0. 

Choice of pitch affects both image quality and patient dose 2:

  • P = 1.0: x-ray beams are contiguous for adjacent rotations

  • P >1.0: x-ray beams are not contiguous for adjacent rotations; i.e. there are gaps in the x-ray helix, but the full volume is still irradiated, only with fewer projections per rotation

  • P <1.0: there is x-ray beam overlap; i.e. a volume of tissue is irradiated more than once per scan

Thus, a pitch >1.0 results in decreased patient dose but also decreased image quality (fewer projections are obtained, resulting in a lower signal-to-noise ratio). A pitch of <1.0 results in better image quality but a higher patient dose. 

Multislice CT (MSCT) 

Beam pitch is defined as table distance traveled in one 360° gantry rotation divided by the total thickness of all simultaneously acquired slices 3.

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