Technical Note: Relation between dual-energy subtraction of CT images for electron density calibration and virtual monochromatic imaging




For accurate tissue inhomogeneity correction in radiotherapy treatment planning, the author previously proposed a simple 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 ρe range. The purpose of the present study was to reveal the relation between the ΔHU image for ρe calibration and a virtually monochromatic CT image by performing numerical analyses based on the basis material decomposition in dual-energy CT.


The author determined the weighting factor, α0, of the ΔHU–ρe conversion through numerical analyses of the International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements Report-46 human body tissues using their attenuation coefficients and given ρe values. Another weighting factor, α(E), for synthesizing a virtual monochromatic CT image from high- and low-kV CT images, was also calculated in the energy range of 0.03 < E < 5 MeV, assuming that cortical bone and water were the basis materials. The mass attenuation coefficients for these materials were obtained using the xcom photon cross sections database. The effective x-ray energies used to calculate the attenuation were chosen to imitate a dual-source CT scanner operated at 80–140 and 100–140 kV/Sn.


The determined α0 values were 0.455 for 80–140 kV/Sn and 0.743 for 100–140 kV/Sn. These values coincided almost perfectly with the respective maximal points of the calculated α(E) curves located at approximately 1 MeV, in which the photon-matter interaction in human body tissues is exclusively the incoherent (Compton) scattering.


The ΔHU image could be regarded substantially as a CT image acquired with monoenergetic 1-MeV photons, which provides a linear relationship between CT numbers and electron densities.