Radiation therapy physics
Initial implementation of the conversion from the energy-subtracted CT number to electron density in tissue inhomogeneity corrections: An anthropomorphic phantom study of radiotherapy treatment planning
To achieve accurate tissue inhomogeneity corrections in radiotherapy treatment planning, the authors had previously proposed a novel conversion of the energy-subtracted computed tomography (CT) number to an electron density (ΔHU–ρe conversion), which provides a single linear relationship between ΔHU and ρe over a wide range of ρe. The purpose of this study is to present an initial implementation of the ΔHU–ρe conversion method for a treatment planning system (TPS). In this paper, two example radiotherapy plans are used to evaluate the reliability of dose calculations in the ΔHU–ρe conversion method.
CT images were acquired using a clinical dual-source CT (DSCT) scanner operated in the dual-energy mode with two tube potential pairs and an additional tin (Sn) filter for the high-kV tube (80–140 kV/Sn and 100–140 kV/Sn). Single-energy CT using the same DSCT scanner was also performed at 120 kV to compare the ΔHU–ρe conversion method with a conventional conversion from a CT number to ρe (Hounsfield units, HU–ρe conversion). Lookup tables for ρe calibration were obtained from the CT image acquisitions for tissue substitutes in an electron density phantom (EDP). To investigate the beam-hardening effect on dosimetric uncertainties, two EDPs with different sizes (a body EDP and a head EDP) were used for the ρe calibration. Each acquired lookup table was applied to two radiotherapy plans designed using the XiO TPS with the superposition algorithm for an anthropomorphic phantom. The first radiotherapy plan was for an oral cavity tumor and the second was for a lung tumor.
In both treatment plans, the performance of the ΔHU–ρe conversion was superior to that of the conventional HU–ρe conversion in terms of the reliability of dose calculations. Especially, for the oral tumor plan, which dealt with dentition and bony structures, treatment planning with the HU–ρe conversion exhibited apparent discrepancies between the dose distributions and dose–volume histograms (DVHs) of the body-EDP and head-EDP calibrations. In contrast, the dose distributions and DVHs of the body-EDP and head-EDP calibrations coincided with each other almost perfectly in the ΔHU–ρe conversion for 100–140 kV/Sn. The difference between the V100’s (the mean planning target volume receiving 100% of the prescribed dose; a DVH parameter) of the body-EDP and head-EDP calibrations could be reduced to less than 1% using the ΔHU–ρe conversion, but exceeded 11% for the HU–ρe conversion.
The ΔHU–ρe conversion can be implemented for currently available TPS's without any modifications or extensions. The ΔHU–ρe conversion appears to be a promising method for providing an accurate and reliable inhomogeneity correction in treatment planning for any ill-conditioned scans that include (i) the use of a calibration EDP that is nonequivalent to the patient's body tissues, (ii) a mismatch between the size of the patient and the calibration EDP, or (iii) a large quantity of high-density and high-atomic-number tissue structures.