Improving dose calculation accuracy in preclinical radiation experiments using multi-energy element resolved cone-beam CT

Yanqi Huang, Xiaoyu Hu, Yuncheng Zhong, Youfang Lai, Chenyang Shen, Xun Jia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective. Cone-beam CT (CBCT) in modern pre-clinical small-animal radiation research platforms provides volumetric images for image guidance and experiment planning purposes. In this work, we implemented multi-energy element-resolved (MEER) CBCT using three scans with different kVps on a SmART platform (Precision x-ray Inc.) to determine images of relative electron density (rED) and elemental composition (EC) that are needed for Monte Carlo-based radiation dose calculation. Approach. We performed comprehensive calibration tasks to achieve sufficient accuracy for this quantitative imaging purpose. For geometry calibration, we scanned a ball bearing phantom and used an analytical method together with an optimization approach to derive gantry angle specific geometry parameters. Intensity calibration and correction included the corrections for detector lag, glare, and beam hardening. The corrected CBCT projection images acquired at 30, 40, and 60 kVp in multiple scans were used to reconstruct CBCT images using the Feldkamp-Davis-Kress reconstruction algorithm. After that, an optimization problem was solved to determine images of rED and EC. We demonstrated the effectiveness of our CBCT calibration steps by showing improvements in image quality and successful material decomposition in cases with a small animal CT calibration phantom and a plastinated mouse phantom. Main results. It was found that artifacts induced by geometry inaccuracy, detector lag, glare, and beam hardening were visually reduced. CT number mean errors were reduced from 19% to 5%. In the CT calibration phantom case, median errors in H, O, and Ca fractions for all the inserts were below 1%, 2%, and 4% respectively, and median error in rED was less than 5%. Compared to the standard approach deriving material type and rED via CT number conversion, our approach improved Monte Carlo simulation-based dose calculation accuracy in bone regions. Mean dose error was reduced from 47.5% to 10.9%. Significance. The MEER-CBCT implemented on an existing CBCT system of a small animal irradiation platform achieved accurate material decomposition and significantly improved Monte Carlo dose calculation accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number245003
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 21 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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