Radiation imaging physics
Bowtie filters for dedicated breast CT: Analysis of bowtie filter material selection
For a given bowtie filter design, both the selection of material and the physical design control the energy fluence, and consequently the dose distribution, in the object. Using three previously described bowtie filter designs, the goal of this work is to demonstrate the effect that different materials have on the bowtie filter performance measures.
Three bowtie filter designs that compensate for one or more aspects of the beam-modifying effects due to the differences in path length in a projection have been designed. The nature of the designs allows for their realization using a variety of materials. The designs were based on a phantom, 14 cm in diameter, composed of 40% fibroglandular and 60% adipose tissue. Bowtie design #1 is based on single material spectral matching and produces nearly uniform spectral shape for radiation incident upon the detector. Bowtie design #2 uses the idea of basis-material decomposition to produce the same spectral shape and intensity at the detector, using two different materials. With bowtie design #3, it is possible to eliminate the beam hardening effect in the reconstructed image by adjusting the bowtie filter thickness so that the effective attenuation coefficient for every ray is the same. Seven different materials were chosen to represent a range of chemical compositions and densities. After calculation of construction parameters for each bowtie filter design, a bowtie filter was created using each of these materials (assuming reasonable construction parameters were obtained), resulting in a total of 26 bowtie filters modeled analytically and in the penelope Monte Carlo simulation environment. Using the analytical model of each bowtie filter, design profiles were obtained and energy fluence as a function of fan-angle was calculated. Projection images with and without each bowtie filter design were also generated using penelope and reconstructed using FBP. Parameters such as dose distribution, noise uniformity, and scatter were investigated.
Analytical calculations with and without each bowtie filter show that some materials for a given design produce bowtie filters that are too large for implementation in breast CT scanners or too small to accurately manufacture. Results also demonstrate the ability to manipulate the energy fluence distribution (dynamic range) by using different materials, or different combinations of materials, for a given bowtie filter design. This feature is especially advantageous when using photon counting detector technology. Monte Carlo simulation results from penelope show that all studied material choices for bowtie design #2 achieve nearly uniform dose distribution, noise uniformity index less than 5%, and nearly uniform scatter-to-primary ratio. These same features can also be obtained using certain materials with bowtie designs #1 and #3.
With the three bowtie filter designs used in this work, the selection of material is an important design consideration. An appropriate material choice can improve image quality, dose uniformity, and dynamic range.