An investigation into factors affecting the precision of CT radiation dose profile width measurements using radiochromic films




To investigate the impact of x-ray beam energy, exposure intensity, and flat-bed scanner uniformity and spatial resolution on the precision of computed tomography (CT) beam width measurements using Gafchromic XR-QA2 film and an off-the-shelf document scanner.


Small strips of Gafchromic film were placed at isocenter in a CT scanner and exposed at various x-ray beam energies (80–140 kVp), exposure levels (50–400 mA s), and nominal beam widths (1.25, 5, and 10 mm). The films were scanned in reflection mode on a Ricoh MP3501 flat-bed document scanner using several spatial resolution settings (100 to 400 dpi) and at different locations on the scanner bed. Reflection measurements were captured in digital image files and radiation dose profiles generated by converting the image pixel values to air kerma through film calibration. Beam widths were characterized by full width at half maximum (FWHM) and full width at tenth maximum (FWTM) of dose profiles. Dependences of these parameters on the above factors were quantified in percentage change from the baselines.


The uncertainties in both FWHM and FWTM caused by varying beam energy, exposure level, and scanner uniformity were all within 4.5% and 7.6%, respectively. Increasing scanner spatial resolution significantly increased the uncertainty in both FWHM and FWTM, with FWTM affected by almost 8 times more than FWHM (48.7% vs 6.5%). When uncalibrated dose profiles were used, FWHM and FWTM were over-estimated by 11.6% and 7.6%, respectively. Narrower beam width appeared more sensitive to the film calibration than the wider ones (R2 = 0.68 and 0.85 for FWHM and FWTM, respectively). The global and maximum local background variations of the document scanner were 1.2%. The intrinsic film nonuniformity for an unexposed film was 0.3%.


Measurement of CT beam widths using Gafchromic XR-QA2 films is robust against x-ray energy, exposure level, and scanner uniformity. With proper film calibration and scanner resolution setting, it can provide adequate precision for meeting ACR and manufacturer's tolerances for the measurement of CT dose profiles.