Radiation-induced refraction artifacts in the optical CT readout of polymer gel dosimeters




The objective of this work is to demonstrate imaging artifacts that can occur during the optical computed tomography (CT) scanning of polymer gel dosimeters due to radiation-induced refractive index (RI) changes in polyacrylamide gels.


A 1 L cylindrical polyacrylamide gel dosimeter was irradiated with 3 × 3 cm2 square beams of 6 MV photons. A prototype fan-beam optical CT scanner was used to image the dosimeter. Investigative optical CT scans were performed to examine two types of rayline bending: (i) bending within the plane of the fan-beam and (ii) bending out the plane of the fan-beam. To address structured errors, an iterative Savitzky–Golay (ISG) filtering routine was designed to filter 2D projections in sinogram space. For comparison, 2D projections were alternatively filtered using an adaptive-mean (AM) filter.


In-plane rayline bending was most notably observed in optical CT projections where rays of the fan-beam confronted a sustained dose gradient that was perpendicular to their trajectory but within the fan-beam plane. These errors caused distinct streaking artifacts in image reconstructions due to the refraction of higher intensity rays toward more opaque regions of the dosimeter. Out-of-plane rayline bending was observed in slices of the dosimeter that featured dose gradients perpendicular to the plane of the fan-beam. These errors caused widespread, severe overestimations of dose in image reconstructions due to the higher-than-actual opacity that is perceived by the scanner when light is bent off of the detector array. The ISG filtering routine outperformed AM filtering for both in-plane and out-of-plane rayline errors caused by radiation-induced RI changes. For in-plane rayline errors, streaks in an irradiated region (>7 Gy) were as high as 49% for unfiltered data, 14% for AM, and 6% for ISG. For out-of-plane rayline errors, overestimations of dose in a low-dose region (∼50 cGy) were as high as 13 Gy for unfiltered data, 10 Gy for AM, and 3.1 Gy for ISG. The ISG routine also addressed unrelated artifacts that previously needed to be manually removed in sinogram space. However, the ISG routine blurred reconstructions, causing losses in spatial resolution of ∼5 mm in the plane of the fan-beam and ∼8 mm perpendicular to the fan-beam.


This paper reveals a new category of imaging artifacts that can affect the optical CT readout of polyacrylamide gel dosimeters. Investigative scans show that radiation-induced RI changes can cause significant rayline errors when rays confront a prolonged dose gradient that runs perpendicular to their trajectory. In fan-beam optical CT, these errors manifested in two ways: (1) distinct streaking artifacts caused by in-plane rayline bending and (2) severe overestimations of opacity caused by rays bending out of the fan-beam plane and missing the detector array. Although the ISG filtering routine mitigated these errors better than an adaptive-mean filtering routine, it caused unacceptable losses in spatial resolution.