Radiation imaging physics
Systematic calibration of an integrated x-ray and optical tomography system for preclinical radiation research
The cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) guided small animal radiation research platform (SARRP) has been developed for focal tumor irradiation, allowing laboratory researchers to test basic biological hypotheses that can modify radiotherapy outcomes in ways that were not feasible previously. CBCT provides excellent bone to soft tissue contrast, but is incapable of differentiating tumors from surrounding soft tissue. Bioluminescence tomography (BLT), in contrast, allows direct visualization of even subpalpable tumors and quantitative evaluation of tumor response. Integration of BLT with CBCT offers complementary image information, with CBCT delineating anatomic structures and BLT differentiating luminescent tumors. This study is to develop a systematic method to calibrate an integrated CBCT and BLT imaging system which can be adopted onboard the SARRP to guide focal tumor irradiation.
The integrated imaging system consists of CBCT, diffuse optical tomography (DOT), and BLT. The anatomy acquired from CBCT and optical properties acquired from DOT serve as a priori information for the subsequent BLT reconstruction. Phantoms were designed and procedures were developed to calibrate the CBCT, DOT/BLT, and the entire integrated system. Geometrical calibration was performed to calibrate the CBCT system. Flat field correction was performed to correct the nonuniform response of the optical imaging system. Absolute emittance calibration was performed to convert the camera readout to the emittance at the phantom or animal surface, which enabled the direct reconstruction of the bioluminescence source strength. Phantom and mouse imaging were performed to validate the calibration.
All calibration procedures were successfully performed. Both CBCT of a thin wire and a euthanized mouse revealed no spatial artifact, validating the accuracy of the CBCT calibration. The absolute emittance calibration was validated with a 650 nm laser source, resulting in a 3.0% difference between simulated and measured signal. The calibration of the entire system was confirmed through the CBCT and BLT reconstruction of a bioluminescence source placed inside a tissue-simulating optical phantom. Using a spatial region constraint, the source position was reconstructed with less than 1 mm error and the source strength reconstructed with less than 24% error.
A practical and systematic method has been developed to calibrate an integrated x-ray and optical tomography imaging system, including the respective CBCT and optical tomography system calibration and the geometrical calibration of the entire system. The method can be modified and adopted to calibrate CBCT and optical tomography systems that are operated independently or hybrid x-ray and optical tomography imaging systems.