Metal artifacts in computed tomography for radiation therapy planning: dosimetric effects and impact of metal artifact reduction

Phys Med Biol. 2017 Apr 21;62(8):R49-R80. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aa5293. Epub 2017 Mar 21.


A significant and increasing number of patients receiving radiation therapy present with metal objects close to, or even within, the treatment area, resulting in artifacts in computed tomography (CT) imaging, which is the most commonly used imaging method for treatment planning in radiation therapy. In the presence of metal implants, such as dental fillings in treatment of head-and-neck tumors, spinal stabilization implants in spinal or paraspinal treatment or hip replacements in prostate cancer treatments, the extreme photon absorption by the metal object leads to prominent image artifacts. Although current CT scanners include a series of correction steps for beam hardening, scattered radiation and noisy measurements, when metal implants exist within or close to the treatment area, these corrections do not suffice. CT metal artifacts affect negatively the treatment planning of radiation therapy either by causing difficulties to delineate the target volume or by reducing the dose calculation accuracy. Various metal artifact reduction (MAR) methods have been explored in terms of improvement of organ delineation and dose calculation in radiation therapy treatment planning, depending on the type of radiation treatment and location of the metal implant and treatment site. Including a brief description of the available CT MAR methods that have been applied in radiation therapy, this article attempts to provide a comprehensive review on the dosimetric effect of the presence of CT metal artifacts in treatment planning, as reported in the literature, and the potential improvement suggested by different MAR approaches. The impact of artifacts on the treatment planning and delivery accuracy is discussed in the context of different modalities, such as photon external beam, brachytherapy and particle therapy, as well as by type and location of metal implants.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip
  • Artifacts*
  • Dental Implants
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metals*
  • Pelvis / diagnostic imaging
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Photons
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Dental Implants
  • Metals