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Med Phys. 2013 Mar;40(3):031906. doi: 10.1118/1.4790564.

Analysis of a free-running synchronization artifact correction for MV-imaging with aSi:H flat panels.

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Institute for Research and Development on Advanced Radiation Technologies (radART), Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg 5020, Austria.



Solid state flat panel electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs) are widely used for megavolt (MV) photon imaging applications in radiotherapy. In addition to their original purpose in patient position verification, they are convenient to use in quality assurance and dosimetry to verify beam geometry and dose deposition or to perform linear accelerator (linac) calibration procedures. However, native image frames from amorphous silicon (aSi:H) detectors show a range of artifacts which have to be eliminated by proper correction algorithms. When a panel is operated in free-running frame acquisition mode, moving vertical stripes (periodic synchronization artifacts) are a disturbing feature in image frames. Especially for applications in volumetric intensity modulated arc therapy (VMAT) or motion tracking, the synchronization (sync) artifacts are the limiting factor for potential and accuracy since they become even worse at higher frame rates and at lower dose rates, i.e., linac pulse repetition frequencies (PRFs).


The authors introduced a synchronization correction method which is based on a theoretical model describing the interferences of the panel's readout clocking with the linac's dose pulsing. Depending on the applied PRF, a certain number of dose pulses is captured per frame which is readout columnwise, sequentially. The interference of the PRF with the panel readout is responsible for the period and the different gray value levels of the sync stripes, which can be calculated analytically. Sync artifacts can then be eliminated multiplicatively in precorrected frames without additional information about radiation pulse timing.


For the analysis, three aSi:H EPIDs of various types were investigated with 6 and 15 MV photon beams at varying PRFs of 25, 50, 100, 200, and 400 pulses per second. Applying the sync correction at panels with gadolinium oxysulfide scintillators improved single frame flood field image quality drastically [improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) up to 66.1 dB for 6 MV and 66.0 dB for 15 MV]. Also for the EPID with a caesium iodide scintillator, the noise for the lower PRFs could be reduced (SNR at 6 MV of up to 56.3 dB and at 15 MV up to 46.7 dB). However, the simplistic readout interference model fails at higher PRFs, where image lag and ghosting effects due to trapped charges in the thin film transistor and scintillator postglowing require additional corrections.


The presented free-running sync correction method improves SNR of single frames and enables imaging applications, like low-dose rate imaging at increased image frame rates (e.g., to track moving gold fiducials in the lung). Adaptive image guided radiotherapy protocols become even feasible in VMAT plans. Also simultaneous kilovolt and MV imaging applications can benefit from new possibilities of MV scatter removal in x-ray images.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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