Monte Carlo investigations of megavoltage cone-beam CT using thick, segmented scintillating detectors for soft tissue visualization

Yi Wang, Larry E. Antonuk, Youcef El-Mohri, Qihua Zhao, Amit Sawant, Hong Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Megavoltage cone-beam computed tomography (MV CBCT) is a highly promising technique for providing volumetric patient position information in the radiation treatment room. Such information has the potential to greatly assist in registering the patient to the planned treatment position, helping to ensure accurate delivery of the high energy therapy beam to the tumor volume while sparing the surrounding normal tissues. Presently, CBCT systems using conventional MV active matrix flat-panel imagers (AMFPIs), which are commonly used in portal imaging, require a relatively large amount of dose to create images that are clinically useful. This is due to the fact that the phosphor screen detector employed in conventional MV AMFPIs utilizes only ∼2% of the incident radiation (for a 6 MV x-ray spectrum). Fortunately, thick segmented scintillating detectors can overcome this limitation, and the first prototype imager has demonstrated highly promising performance for projection imaging at low doses. It is therefore of definite interest to examine the potential performance of such thick, segmented scintillating detectors for MV CBCT. In this study, Monte Carlo simulations of radiation energy deposition were used to examine reconstructed images of cylindrical CT contrast phantoms, embedded with tissue-equivalent objects. The phantoms were scanned at 6 MV using segmented detectors having various design parameters (i.e., detector thickness as well as scintillator and septal wall materials). Due to constraints imposed by the nature of this study, the size of the phantoms was limited to ∼6 cm. For such phantoms, the simulation results suggest that a 40 mm thick, segmented CsI detector with low density septal walls can delineate electron density differences of ∼2.3% and 1.3% at doses of 1.54 and 3.08 cGy, respectively. In addition, it was found that segmented detectors with greater thickness, higher density scintillator material, or lower density septal walls exhibit higher contrast-to-noise performance. Finally, the performance of various segmented detectors obtained at a relatively low dose (1.54 cGy) was compared with that of a phosphor screen similar to that employed in conventional MV AMFPIs. This comparison indicates that for a phosphor screen to achieve the same contrast-to-noise performance as the segmented detectors ∼18 to 59 times more dose is required, depending on the configuration of the segmented detectors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-158
Number of pages14
JournalMedical physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


  • Active matrix flat-panel imager
  • Contrast-to-noise ratio
  • Megavoltage cone-beam CT
  • Segmented scintillating detectors
  • Soft tissue visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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