Analysis of the kinestatic charge detection system as a high detective quantum efficiency electronic portal imaging device



Megavoltage x-ray imaging suffers from reduced image quality due to low differential x-ray attenuation and large Compton scatter compared with kilovoltage imaging. Notwithstanding this, electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs) are now widely used in portal verification in radiotherapy as they offer significant advantages over film, including immediate digital imaging and superior contrast range. However video-camera-based EPIDs (VEPIDs) are limited by problems of low light collection efficiency and significant light scatter, leading to reduced contrast and spatial resolution. Indirect and direct detection-based flat-panel EPIDs have been developed to overcome these limitations. While flat-panel image quality has been reported to exceed that achieved with portal film, these systems have detective quantum efficiency (DQE) limited by the thin detection medium and are sensitive to radiation damage to peripheral read-out electronics. An alternative technology for high-quality portal imaging is presented here: kinesatic charge detection (KCD). The KCD is a scanning tri-electrode ion-chamber containing high-pressure noble gas (xenon at 100atm) used in conjunction with a strip-collimated photon beam. The chamber is scanned across the patient, and an external electric field is used to regulate the cation drift velocity. By matching the scanning velocity with that of the cation (i.e., ion) drift velocity, the cations remain static in the object frame of reference, allowing temporal integration of the signal. The KCD offers several advantages as a portal imaging system. It has a thick detector geometry with an active detection depth of 6.1cm, compared to the sub-millimeter thickness of the phosphor layer in conventional phosphor screens, leading to an order of magnitude advantage in quantum efficiency (>0.3). The unique principle of kinestatis and the use of the scanning strip-collimated x-ray beam provide further integration of charges in time, reduced scatter, and a significantly reduced imaging dose, enhancing the imaging signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and leading to high DQE. While thick detectors usually suffer from reduced spatial resolution, the KCD provides good spatial resolution due to high gas pressure that limits the spread of scattered electrons, and a strip-collimated beam that significantly reduces the inclusion of scatter in the imaging signal. A 10cm wide small-field-of-view (SFOV) prototype of the KCD is presented with a complete analysis of its imaging performance. Measurements of modulation transfer function (MTF), noise power spectrum (NPS), and DQE were in good agreement with Monte Carlo simulations. Imaging signal loss from recombination within the KCD chamber was measured at different gas pressures, ion drift velocities, and strip-collimation widths. Image quality for the prototype KCD was also observed with anthropomorphic phantom imaging in comparison with various commercial and research portal imaging systems, including VEPID, flat-panel imager, and conventional and high contrast film systems. KCD-based imaging provided very good contrast and good spatial resolution at very low imaging dose (0.1cGy per image). For the prototype KCD, measurements yielded DQE(0)=0.19 and DQE(1cymm)=0.004.