PloS one 2018 02 1513(2) e0192933 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0192933
To reduce the radiation dose given to patients, a tube current modulation (TCM) method has been widely used in diagnostic CT systems. However, the TCM method has not yet been applied to a kV-CBCT system on a LINAC machine. The purpose of this study is to investigate if a TCM method would be desirable in a kV-CBCT system for image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) or not. We have developed an attenuation-based TCM method using prior knowledge from planning CT images of patients. The TCM method can provide optimized dose reductions without degrading image quality for kV-CBCT imaging. Here, we investigate whether or not our suggested TCM method is desirable to use in kV-CBCT systems to confirm and revise the exact position of a patient for IGRT. Patients go through diagnostic CT scans for RT planning; therefore, using information from prior CT images can enable estimations of the total X-ray attenuation through a patient’s body in a CBCT setting for radiation treatment. Having this planning CT image allows to use the proposed TCM method in RT. The proposed TCM method provides a minimal amount of current for each projection, as well as total current, required to reconstruct the current modulated CBCT image with an image quality similar to that of CBCT. After applying a calculated TCM current for each projection, projection images were acquired and the current modulated CBCT image was reconstructed using a FDK algorithm. To validate the proposed approach, we used a numerical XCAT phantom and a real ATOM phantom and evaluated the performance of the proposed method via visual and quantitative image quality metrics. The organ dose due to imaging radiation was calculated in both cases and compared using the GATE simulation toolkit. As shown in the quantitative evaluation, normalized noise and SSIM values of the TCM were similar to those of conventional CBCT images. In addition, the proposed TCM method yielded comparable image quality to that of conventional CBCT images for both simulations and experimental studies as organ doses were decreased. We have successfully demonstrated the feasibility and dosimetric merit of a prototypical TCM method for kV-CBCT via simulations and experimental study. The results indicate that the proposed TCM method and overall framework can be a viable option for CBCT imaging that utilizes an optimal dose reduction without degrading image quality. Thus, this method reduces the probability for side effects due to radiation exposure.