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Götz, S. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7518-7055; Dickmann, Jannis ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8410-3995; Rit, S.; Krah, N. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1376-6633; Khellaf, F. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4266-0539; Schulte, R. W. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7892-2756; Parodi, Katia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7779-6690; Dedes, G. and Landry, Guillaume ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1707-4068 (2022): Evaluation of the impact of a scanner prototype on proton CT and helium CT image quality and dose efficiency with Monte Carlo simulation. In: Physics in Medicine & Biology, Vol. 67, No. 5, 055003 [PDF, 2MB]


Objective. The use of ion computed tomography (CT) promises to yield improved relative stopping power (RSP) estimation as input to particle therapy treatment planning. Recently, proton CT (pCT) has been shown to yield RSP accuracy on par with state-of-the-art x-ray dual energy CT. There are however concerns that the lower spatial resolution of pCT compared to x-ray CT may limit its potential, which has spurred interest in the use of helium ion CT (HeCT). The goal of this study was to investigate image quality of pCT and HeCT in terms of noise, spatial resolution, RSP accuracy and imaging dose using a detailed Monte Carlo (MC) model of an existing ion CT prototype. Approach. Three phantoms were used in simulated pCT and HeCT scans allowing estimation of noise, spatial resolution and the scoring of dose. An additional phantom was used to evaluate RSP accuracy. The imaging dose required to achieve the same image noise in a water and a head phantom was estimated at both native spatial resolution, and in a scenario where the HeCT spatial resolution was reduced and matched to that of pCT using Hann windowing of the reconstruction filter. A variance reconstruction formalism was adapted to account for Hann windowing. Main results. We confirmed that the scanner prototype would produce higher spatial resolution for HeCT than pCT by a factor 1.8 (0.86 lp mm−1 versus 0.48 lp mm−1 at the center of a 20 cm water phantom). At native resolution, HeCT required a factor 2.9 more dose than pCT to achieve the same noise, while at matched resolution, HeCT required only 38% of the pCT dose. Finally, RSP mean absolute percent error (MAPE) was found to be 0.59% for pCT and 0.67% for HeCT. Significance. This work compared the imaging performance of pCT and HeCT when using an existing scanner prototype, with the spatial resolution advantage of HeCT coming at the cost of increased dose. When matching spatial resolution via Hann windowing, HeCT had a substantial dose advantage. Both modalities provided state-of-the-art RSP MAPE. HeCT might therefore help reduce the dose exposure of patients with comparable image noise to pCT, enhanced spatial resolution and acceptable RSP accuracy at the same time.

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