Carl E. Ravin Advanced Imaging Laboratories, Department of Radiology, Medical Physics Graduate Program, Departments of Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27705
Computed tomography (CT) has been widely used worldwide as a tool for medical diagnosis and imaging. However, despite its significant clinical benefits, CT radiation dose at the population level has become a subject of public attention and concern. In this light, optimizing radiation dose has become a core responsibility for the CT community. As a fundamental step to manage and optimize dose, it may be beneficial to have accurate and prospective knowledge about the radiation dose for an individual patient. In this study, the authors developed a framework to prospectively estimate organ dose for chest and abdominopelvic CT exams under tube current modulation (TCM).
The organ dose is mainly dependent on two key factors: patient anatomy and irradiation field. A prediction process was developed to accurately model both factors. To model the anatomical diversity and complexity in the patient population, the authors used a previously developed library of computational phantoms with broad distributions of sizes, ages, and genders. A selected clinical patient, represented by a computational phantom in the study, was optimally matched with another computational phantom in the library to obtain a representation of the patient's anatomy. To model the irradiation field, a previously validated Monte Carlo program was used to model CT scanner systems. The tube current profiles were modeled using a ray-tracing program as previously reported that theoretically emulated the variability of modulation profiles from major CT machine manufacturers Li et al., [Phys. Med. Biol. 59, 4525–4548 (2014)]. The prediction of organ dose was achieved using the following process: (1) CTDIvol-normalized-organ dose coefficients (horgan) for fixed tube current were first estimated as the prediction basis for the computational phantoms; (2) each computation phantom, regarded as a clinical patient, was optimally matched with one computational phantom in the library; (3) to account for the effect of the TCM scheme, a weighted organ-specific CTDIvol [denoted as ] was computed for each organ based on the TCM profile and the anatomy of the “matched” phantom; (4) the organ dose was predicted by multiplying the weighted organ-specific CTDIvol with the organ dose coefficients (horgan). To quantify the prediction accuracy, each predicted organ dose was compared with the corresponding organ dose simulated from the Monte Carlo program with the TCM profile explicitly modeled.
The predicted organ dose showed good agreements with the simulated organ dose across all organs and modulation profiles. The average percentage error in organ dose estimation was generally within 20% across all organs and modulation profiles, except for organs located in the pelvic and shoulder regions. For an average CTDIvol of a CT exam of 10 mGy, the average error at full modulation strength (α = 1) across all organs was 0.91 mGy for chest exams, and 0.82 mGy for abdominopelvic exams.
This study developed a quantitative model to predict organ dose for clinical chest and abdominopelvic scans. Such information may aid in the design of optimized CT protocols in relation to a targeted level of image quality.