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Med Phys. 2011 Nov;38(11):5969-79. doi: 10.1118/1.3651470.

Image quality improvement in megavoltage cone beam CT using an imaging beam line and a sintered pixelated array system.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.



To quantify the improvement in megavoltage cone beam computed tomography (MVCBCT) image quality enabled by the combination of a 4.2 MV imaging beam line (IBL) with a carbon electron target and a detector system equipped with a novel sintered pixelated array (SPA) of translucent Gd(2)O(2)S ceramic scintillator. Clinical MVCBCT images are traditionally acquired with the same 6 MV treatment beam line (TBL) that is used for cancer treatment, a standard amorphous Si (a-Si) flat panel imager, and the Kodak Lanex Fast-B (LFB) scintillator. The IBL produces a greater fluence of keV-range photons than the TBL, to which the detector response is more optimal, and the SPA is a more efficient scintillator than the LFB.


A prototype IBL + SPA system was installed on a Siemens Oncor linear accelerator equipped with the MVision(TM) image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) system. A SPA strip consisting of four neighboring tiles and measuring 40 cm by 10.96 cm in the crossplane and inplane directions, respectively, was installed in the flat panel imager. Head- and pelvis-sized phantom images were acquired at doses ranging from 3 to 60 cGy with three MVCBCT configurations: TBL + LFB, IBL + LFB, and IBL + SPA. Phantom image quality at each dose was quantified using the contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) and modulation transfer function (MTF) metrics. Head and neck, thoracic, and pelvic (prostate) cancer patients were imaged with the three imaging system configurations at multiple doses ranging from 3 to 15 cGy. The systems were assessed qualitatively from the patient image data.


For head and neck and pelvis-sized phantom images, imaging doses of 3 cGy or greater, and relative electron densities of 1.09 and 1.48, the CNR average improvement factors for imaging system change of TBL + LFB to IBL + LFB, IBL + LFB to IBL + SPA, and TBL + LFB to IBL + SPA were 1.63 (p < 10(- 8)), 1.64 (p < 10(- 13)), 2.66 (p < 10(- 9)), respectively. For all imaging doses, soft tissue contrast was more easily differentiated on IBL + SPA head and neck and pelvic images than TBL + LFB and IBL + LFB. IBL + SPA thoracic images were comparable to IBL + LFB images, but less noisy than TBL + LFB images at all imaging doses considered. The mean MTFs over all imaging doses were comparable, at within 3%, for all imaging system configurations for both the head- and pelvis-sized phantoms.


Since CNR scales with the square root of imaging dose, changing from TBL + LFB to IBL + LFB and IBL + LFB to IBL + SPA reduces the imaging dose required to obtain a given CNR by factors of 0.38 and 0.37, respectively. MTFs were comparable between imaging system configurations. IBL + SPA patient image quality was always better than that of the TBL + LFB system and as good as or better than that of the IBL + LFB system, for a given dose.

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