Radiation measurement physics
Validation of a Monte Carlo model used for simulating tube current modulation in computed tomography over a wide range of phantom conditions/challenges
Monte Carlo (MC) simulation methods have been widely used in patient dosimetry in computed tomography (CT), including estimating patient organ doses. However, most simulation methods have undergone a limited set of validations, often using homogeneous phantoms with simple geometries. As clinical scanning has become more complex and the use of tube current modulation (TCM) has become pervasive in the clinic, MC simulations should include these techniques in their methodologies and therefore should also be validated using a variety of phantoms with different shapes and material compositions to result in a variety of differently modulated tube current profiles. The purpose of this work is to perform the measurements and simulations to validate a Monte Carlo model under a variety of test conditions where fixed tube current (FTC) and TCM were used.
A previously developed MC model for estimating dose from CT scans that models TCM, built using the platform of mcnpx, was used for CT dose quantification. In order to validate the suitability of this model to accurately simulate patient dose from FTC and TCM CT scan, measurements and simulations were compared over a wide range of conditions. Phantoms used for testing range from simple geometries with homogeneous composition (16 and 32 cm computed tomography dose index phantoms) to more complex phantoms including a rectangular homogeneous water equivalent phantom, an elliptical shaped phantom with three sections (where each section was a homogeneous, but different material), and a heterogeneous, complex geometry anthropomorphic phantom. Each phantom requires varying levels of x-, y- and z-modulation. Each phantom was scanned on a multidetector row CT (Sensation 64) scanner under the conditions of both FTC and TCM. Dose measurements were made at various surface and depth positions within each phantom. Simulations using each phantom were performed for FTC, detailed x–y–z TCM, and z-axis-only TCM to obtain dose estimates. This allowed direct comparisons between measured and simulated dose values under each condition of phantom, location, and scan to be made.
For FTC scans, the percent root mean square (RMS) difference between measurements and simulations was within 5% across all phantoms. For TCM scans, the percent RMS of the difference between measured and simulated values when using detailed TCM and z-axis-only TCM simulations was 4.5% and 13.2%, respectively. For the anthropomorphic phantom, the difference between TCM measurements and detailed TCM and z-axis-only TCM simulations was 1.2% and 8.9%, respectively. For FTC measurements and simulations, the percent RMS of the difference was 5.0%.
This work demonstrated that the Monte Carlo model developed provided good agreement between measured and simulated values under both simple and complex geometries including an anthropomorphic phantom. This work also showed the increased dose differences for z-axis-only TCM simulations, where considerable modulation in the x–y plane was present due to the shape of the rectangular water phantom. Results from this investigation highlight details that need to be included in Monte Carlo simulations of TCM CT scans in order to yield accurate, clinically viable assessments of patient dosimetry.