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Lascaud, Julie ORCID: 0000-0002-7649-6909; Dash, Pratik ORCID: 0000-0001-9180-2065; Schnürle, Katrin; Bortfeldt, Jonathan ORCID: 0000-0002-0777-985X; Niepel, Katharina; Maas, Jessica; Würl, Matthias ORCID: 0000-0003-3044-449X; Vidal, Marie; Hérault, Joël; Landry, Guillaume ORCID: 0000-0003-1707-4068; Savoia, Alessandro Stuart; Lauber, Kirsten ORCID: 0000-0002-8141-0452; Parodi, Katia ORCID: 0000-0001-7779-6690 (2022): Fabrication and characterization of a multimodal 3D printed mouse phantom for ionoacoustic quality assurance in image-guided pre-clinical proton radiation research. In: Physics in Medicine & Biology, Vol. 67, No. 20, 205001
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Objective. Image guidance and precise irradiation are fundamental to ensure the reliability of small animal oncology studies. Accurate positioning of the animal and the in-beam monitoring of the delivered radio-therapeutic treatment necessitate several imaging modalities. In the particular context of proton therapy with a pulsed beam, information on the delivered dose can be retrieved by monitoring the thermoacoustic waves resulting from the brief and local energy deposition induced by a proton beam (ionoacoustics). The objective of this work was to fabricate a multimodal phantom (x-ray, proton, ultrasound, and ionoacoustics) allowing for sufficient imaging contrast for all the modalities. Approach. The phantom anatomical parts were extracted from mouse computed tomography scans and printed using polylactic acid (organs) and a granite/polylactic acid composite (skeleton). The anatomical pieces were encapsulated in silicone rubber to ensure long term stability. The phantom was imaged using x-ray cone-beam computed tomography, proton radiography, ultrasound imaging, and monitoring of a 20 MeV pulsed proton beam using ionoacoustics. Main results. The anatomical parts could be visualized in all the imaging modalities validating the phantom capability to be used for multimodal imaging. Ultrasound images were simulated from the x-ray cone-beam computed tomography and co-registered with ultrasound images obtained before the phantom irradiation and low-resolution ultrasound images of the mouse phantom in the irradiation position, co-registered with ionoacoustic measurements. The latter confirmed the irradiation of a tumor surrogate for which the reconstructed range was found to be in reasonable agreement with the expectation. Significance. This study reports on a realistic small animal phantom which can be used to investigate ionoacoustic range (or dose) verification together with ultrasound, x-ray, and proton imaging. The co-registration between ionoacoustic reconstructions of the impinging proton beam and x-ray imaging is assessed for the first time in a pre-clinical scenario.