Medical physics letter
Progressive cone beam CT dose control in image-guided radiation therapy
Cone beam CT (CBCT) in image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) offers a tremendous advantage for treatment guidance. The associated imaging dose is a clinical concern. One unique feature of CBCT-based IGRT is that the same patient is repeatedly scanned during a treatment course, and the contents of CBCT images at different fractions are similar. The authors propose a progressive dose control (PDC) scheme to utilize this temporal correlation for imaging dose reduction.
A dynamic CBCT scan protocol, as opposed to the static one in the current clinical practice, is proposed to gradually reduce the imaging dose in each treatment fraction. The CBCT image from each fraction is processed by a prior-image based nonlocal means (PINLM) module to enhance its quality. The increasing amount of prior information from previous CBCT images prevents degradation of image quality due to the reduced imaging dose. Two proof-of-principle experiments have been conducted using measured phantom data and Monte Carlo simulated patient data with deformation.
In the measured phantom case, utilizing a prior image acquired at 0.4 mAs, PINLM is able to improve the image quality of a CBCT acquired at 0.2 mAs by reducing the noise level from 34.95 to 12.45 HU. In the synthetic patient case, acceptable image quality is maintained at four consecutive fractions with gradually decreasing exposure levels of 0.4, 0.1, 0.07, and 0.05 mAs. When compared with the standard low-dose protocol of 0.4 mAs for each fraction, an overall imaging dose reduction of more than 60% is achieved.
PINLM-PDC is able to reduce CBCT imaging dose in IGRT utilizing the temporal correlations among the sequence of CBCT images while maintaining the quality.