Characterizing energy dependence and count rate performance of a dual scintillator fiber-optic detector for computed tomography

Authors


Abstract

Purpose:

Kilovoltage (kV) x-rays pose a significant challenge for radiation dosimetry. In the kV energy range, even small differences in material composition can result in significant variations in the absorbed energy between soft tissue and the detector. In addition, the use of electronic systems in light detection has demonstrated measurement losses at high photon fluence rates incident to the detector. This study investigated the feasibility of using a novel dual scintillator detector and whether its response to changes in beam energy from scatter and hardening is readily quantified. The detector incorporates a tissue-equivalent plastic scintillator and a gadolinium oxysulfide scintillator, which has a higher sensitivity to scatter x-rays.

Methods:

The detector was constructed by coupling two scintillators: (1) small cylindrical plastic scintillator, 500 μm in diameter and 2 mm in length, and (2) 100 micron sheet of gadolinium oxysulfide 500 μm in diameter, each to a 2 m long optical fiber, which acts as a light guide to transmit scintillation photons from the sensitive element to a photomultiplier tube. Count rate linearity data were obtained from a wide range of exposure rates delivered from a radiological x-ray tube by adjusting the tube current. The data were fitted to a nonparalyzable dead time model to characterize the time response. The true counting rate was related to the reference free air dose air rate measured with a 0.6 cm3 Radcal® thimble chamber as described in AAPM Report No. 111. Secondary electron and photon spectra were evaluated using Monte Carlo techniques to analyze ionization quenching and photon energy-absorption characteristics from free-in-air and in phantom measurements. The depth/energy dependence of the detector was characterized using a computed tomography dose index QA phantom consisting of nested adult head and body segments. The phantom provided up to 32 cm of acrylic with a compatible 0.6 cm3 calibrated ionization chamber to measure the reference air kerma.

Results:

Each detector exhibited counting losses of 5% when irradiated at a dose rate of 26.3 mGy/s (Gadolinium) and 324.3 mGy/s (plastic). The dead time of the gadolinium oxysulfide detector was determined to be 48 ns, while the dead time of the plastic scintillating detector was unable to accurately be calculated due to poor counting statistics from low detected count rates. Noticeable depth/energy dependence was observed for the plastic scintillator for depths greater than 16 cm of acrylic that was not present for measurements using the gadolinium oxysulfide scintillator, leading us to believe that quenching may play a larger role in the depth dependence of the plastic scintillator than the incident x-ray energy spectrum. When properly corrected for dead time effects, the energy response of the gadolinium oxysulfide scintillator is consistent with the plastic scintillator. Using the integrated dual detector method was superior to each detector individually as the depth-dependent measure of dose was correctable to less than 8% between 100 and 135 kV.

Conclusions:

The dual scintillator fiber-optic detector accommodates a methodology for energy dependent corrections of the plastic scintillator, improving the overall accuracy of the dosimeter across the range of diagnostic energies.

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