Acquiring a four-dimensional computed tomography dataset using an external respiratory signal

Phys Med Biol. 2003 Jan 7;48(1):45-62. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/48/1/304.


Four-dimensional (4D) methods strive to achieve highly conformal radiotherapy, particularly for lung and breast tumours, in the presence of respiratory-induced motion of tumours and normal tissues. Four-dimensional radiotherapy accounts for respiratory motion during imaging, planning and radiation delivery, and requires a 4D CT image in which the internal anatomy motion as a function of the respiratory cycle can be quantified. The aims of our research were (a) to develop a method to acquire 4D CT images from a spiral CT scan using an external respiratory signal and (b) to examine the potential utility of 4D CT imaging. A commercially available respiratory motion monitoring system provided an 'external' tracking signal of the patient's breathing. Simultaneous recording of a TTL 'X-Ray ON' signal from the CT scanner indicated the start time of CT image acquisition, thus facilitating time stamping of all subsequent images. An over-sampled spiral CT scan was acquired using a pitch of 0.5 and scanner rotation time of 1.5 s. Each image from such a scan was sorted into an image bin that corresponded with the phase of the respiratory cycle in which the image was acquired. The complete set of such image bins accumulated over a respiratory cycle constitutes a 4D CT dataset. Four-dimensional CT datasets of a mechanical oscillator phantom and a patient undergoing lung radiotherapy were acquired. Motion artefacts were significantly reduced in the images in the 4D CT dataset compared to the three-dimensional (3D) images, for which respiratory motion was not accounted. Accounting for respiratory motion using 4D CT imaging is feasible and yields images with less distortion than 3D images. 4D images also contain respiratory motion information not available in a 3D CT image.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Artifacts
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / instrumentation
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Quality Control
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*
  • Sample Size
  • Subtraction Technique
  • Thermography / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*