Purpose: In stereotactic body radiation therapy of lung tumors, reliable position estimation of the tumor is necessary in order to minimize normal tissue complication rate. While kV X-ray imaging is frequently used, continuous application during radiotherapy sessions is often not possible due to concerns about the additional dose. Thus, ultra low-dose (ULD) kV X-ray imaging based on a single photon counting detector is suggested. This paper addresses the lower limit of photons to locate the tumor reliably with an accuracy in the range of state-of-the-art methods, i.e. a few millimeters.
Method: 18 patient cases with four dimensional CT (4D-CT), which serves as a-priori information, are included in the study. ULD cone beam projections are simulated from the 4D-CTs including Poisson noise. The projections from the breathing phases which correspond to different tumor positions are compared to the ULD projection by means of Poisson log-likelihood (PML) and correlation coefficient (CC), and template matching under these metrics.
Results: The results indicate that in full thorax imaging five photons per pixel suffice for a standard deviation in tumor positions of less than half a breathing phase. Around 50 photons per pixel are needed to achieve this accuracy with the field of view restricted to the tumor region. Compared to CC, PML tends to perform better for low photon counts and shifts in patient setup. Template matching only improves the position estimation in high photon counts. The quality of the reconstruction is independent of the projection angle.
Conclusions: The accuracy of the proposed ULD single photon counting system is in the range of a few millimeters and therefore comparable to state-of-the-art tumor tracking methods. At the same time, a reduction in photons per pixel by three to four orders of magnitude relative to commercial systems with flatpanel detectors can be achieved. This enables continuous kV image-based position estimation during all fractions since the additional dose to the patient is negligible.
Keywords: Correlation coefficient; KV imaging; Korrelationskoeffizient; Lung tumor; Lungentumoren; Maximum Likelihood; Maximum likelihood; Poisson distribution; Poisson-Verteilung; Template Matching; Template matching; Ultra low dose; Ultra-niedrig-Dosis; kV-Bildgebung.
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