A rapid noninvasive characterization of CT x-ray sources




The aim of this study is to generate spatially varying half value layers (HVLs) that can be used to construct virtual equivalent source models of computed tomography (CT) x-ray sources for use in Monte Carlo CT dose computations.


To measure the spatially varying HVLs, the authors combined a cylindrical HVL measurement technique with the characterization of bowtie filter relative attenuation (COBRA) geometry. An apparatus given the name “HVL Jig” was fabricated to accurately position a real-time dosimeter off-isocenter while surrounded by concentric cylindrical aluminum filters (CAFs). In this geometry, each projection of the rotating x-ray tube is filtered by an identical amount of high-purity (type 1100 H-14) aluminum while the stationary radiation dose probe records an air kerma rate versus time waveform. The CAFs were progressively nested to acquire exposure data at increasing filtrations to calculate the HVL. Using this dose waveform and known setup geometry, each timestamp was related to its corresponding fan angle. Data were acquired using axial CT protocols (i.e., rotating tube and stationary patient table) at energies of 80, 100, and 120 kVp on a single CT scanner. These measurements were validated against the more laborious conventional step-and-shoot approach (stationary x-ray tube).


At each energy, HVL data points from the COBRA-cylinder technique were fit to a trendline and compared with the conventional approach. The average relative difference in HVL between the two techniques was 1.3%. There was a systematic overestimation in HVL due to scatter contamination.


The described method is a novel, rapid, accurate, and noninvasive approach that allows one to acquire the spatially varying fluence and HVL data using a single experimental setup in a minimum of three scans. These measurements can be used to characterize the CT beam in terms of the angle-dependent fluence and energy spectra along the bowtie filter direction, which can serve as input for accurate CT dose computations.