A practical method to measure the MTF of CT scanners.
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ABSTRACT: Purpose: A method was developed to correct for systematic errors in estimating the thickness of thin bones due to image blurring in CT images using bone interfaces to estimate the point-spread-function (PSF). This study validates the accuracy of the PSFs estimated using said method from various clinical CT images featuring cortical bones.Methods: Gaussian PSFs, characterized by a different extent in the z (scan) direction than in the x and y directions were obtained using our method from 11 clinical CT scans of a cadaveric craniofacial skeleton. These PSFs were estimated for multiple combinations of scanning parameters and reconstruction methods. The actual PSF for each scan setting was measured using the slanted-slit technique within the image slice plane and the longitudinal axis. The Gaussian PSF and the corresponding modulation transfer function (MTF) are compared against the actual PSF and MTF for validation.Results: The differences (errors) between the actual and estimated full-width half-max (FWHM) of the PSFs were 0.09 ± 0.05 and 0.14 ± 0.11 mm for the xy and z axes, respectively. The overall errors in the predicted frequencies measured at 75%, 50%, 25%, 10%, and 5% MTF levels were 0.06 ± 0.07 and 0.06 ± 0.04 cycles∕mm for the xy and z axes, respectively. The accuracy of the estimates was dependent on whether they were reconstructed with a standard kernel (Toshiba's FC68, mean error of 0.06 ± 0.05 mm, MTF mean error 0.02 ± 0.02 cycles∕mm) or a high resolution bone kernel (Toshiba's FC81, PSF FWHM error 0.12 ± 0.03 mm, MTF mean error 0.09 ± 0.08 cycles∕mm).Conclusions: The method is accurate in 3D for an image reconstructed using a standard reconstruction kernel, which conforms to the Gaussian PSF assumption but less accurate when using a high resolution bone kernel. The method is a practical and self-contained means of estimating the PSF in clinical CT images featuring cortical bones, without the need phantoms or any prior knowledge about the scanner-specific parameters.Medical Physics 01/2014; 41(1):011906. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Thousands of cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) scanners for vascular, maxillofacial, neurological, and body imaging are in clinical use today, but there is no consensus on uniform acceptance and constancy testing for image quality (IQ) and dose yet. The authors developed a quality assurance (QA) framework for fully automated and time-efficient performance evaluation of these systems. In addition, the dependence of objective Fourier-based IQ metrics on direction and position in 3D volumes was investigated for CBCT. The authors designed a dedicated QA phantom 10 cm in length consisting of five compartments, each with a diameter of 10 cm, and an optional extension ring 16 cm in diameter. A homogeneous section of water-equivalent material allows measuring CT value accuracy, image noise and uniformity, and multidimensional global and local noise power spectra (NPS). For the quantitative determination of 3D high-contrast spatial resolution, the modulation transfer function (MTF) of centrally and peripherally positioned aluminum spheres was computed from edge profiles. Additional in-plane and axial resolution patterns were used to assess resolution qualitatively. The characterization of low-contrast detectability as well as CT value linearity and artifact behavior was tested by utilizing sections with soft-tissue-equivalent and metallic inserts. For an automated QA procedure, a phantom detection algorithm was implemented. All tests used in the dedicated QA program were initially verified in simulation studies and experimentally confirmed on a clinical dental CBCT system. The automated IQ evaluation of volume data sets of the dental CBCT system was achieved with the proposed phantom requiring only one scan for the determination of all desired parameters. Typically, less than 5 min were needed for phantom set-up, scanning, and data analysis. Quantitative evaluation of system performance over time by comparison to previous examinations was also verified. The maximum percentage interscan variation of repeated measurements was less than 4% and 1.7% on average for all investigated quality criteria. The NPS-based image noise differed by less than 5% from the conventional standard deviation approach and spatially selective 10% MTF values were well comparable to subjective results obtained with 3D resolution pattern. Determining only transverse spatial resolution and global noise behavior in the central field of measurement turned out to be insufficient. The proposed framework transfers QA routines employed in conventional CT in an advanced version to CBCT for fully automated and time-efficient evaluation of technical equipment. With the modular phantom design, a routine as well as an expert version for assessing IQ is provided. The QA program can be used for arbitrary CT units to evaluate 3D imaging characteristics automatically.Medical Physics 03/2014; 41(3):031901. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Proton computed tomography (CT) is a promising image modality for improving the stopping power estimates and dose calculations for particle therapy. However, the finite range of about 33 cm of water of most commercial proton therapy systems limits the sites that can be scanned from a full 360° rotation. In this paper the authors propose a method to overcome the problem using a dual modality reconstruction (DMR) combining the proton data with a cone-beam x-ray prior. A Catphan 600 phantom was scanned using a cone beam x-ray CT scanner. A digital replica of the phantom was created in the Monte Carlo code Geant4 and a 360° proton CT scan was simulated, storing the entrance and exit position and momentum vector of every proton. Proton CT images were reconstructed using a varying number of angles from the scan. The proton CT images were reconstructed using a constrained nonlinear conjugate gradient algorithm, minimizing total variation and the x-ray CT prior while remaining consistent with the proton projection data. The proton histories were reconstructed along curved cubic-spline paths. The spatial resolution of the cone beam CT prior was retained for the fully sampled case and the 90° interval case, with the MTF = 0.5 (modulation transfer function) ranging from 5.22 to 5.65 linepairs/cm. In the 45° interval case, the MTF = 0.5 dropped to 3.91 linepairs/cm For the fully sampled DMR, the maximal root mean square (RMS) error was 0.006 in units of relative stopping power. For the limited angle cases the maximal RMS error was 0.18, an almost five-fold improvement over the cone beam CT estimate. Dual modality reconstruction yields the high spatial resolution of cone beam x-ray CT while maintaining the improved stopping power estimation of proton CT. In the case of limited angles, the use of prior image proton CT greatly improves the resolution and stopping power estimate, but does not fully achieve the quality of a 360° proton CT scan.Medical Physics 03/2014; 41(3):031904. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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