Technical Note: Validation of TG 233 phantom methodology to characterize noise and dose in patient CT data.
PURPOSE: Phantoms are useful tools in diagnostic CT, but practical limitations reduce phantoms to being only a limited patient surrogate. Furthermore, a phantom with a single cross sectional area cannot be used to evaluate scanner performance in modern CT scanners that use dose reduction techniques such as automated tube current modulation (ATCM) and iterative reconstruction (IR) algorithms to adapt x-ray flux to patient size, reduce radiation dose, and achieve uniform image noise. A new multisized phantom (Mercury Phantom, MP) has been introduced, representing multiple diameters. This work aimed to ascertain if measurements from MP can predict radiation dose and image noise in clinical CT images to prospectively inform protocol design. METHODS: The adult MP design included four different physical diameters (18.5, 23.0, 30.0, and 37.0 cm) representing a range of patient sizes. The study included 1457 examinations performed on two scanner models from two vendors, and two clinical protocols (abdominopelvic with and chest without contrast). Attenuating diameter, radiation dose, and noise magnitude (average pixel standard deviation in uniform image) was automatically estimated in patients and in the MP using a previously validated algorithm. An exponential fit of CTDIvol and noise as a function of size was applied to patients and MP data. Lastly, the fit equations from the phantom data were used to fit the patient data. In each patient distribution fit, the normalized root mean square error (nRMSE) values were calculated in the residuals' plots as a metric to indicate how well the phantom data can predict dose and noise in clinical operations as a function of size. RESULTS: For dose across patient size distributions, the difference between nRMSE from patient fit and MP model data prediction ranged between 0.6% and 2.0% (mean 1.2%). For noise across patient size distributions, the nRMSE difference ranged between 0.1% and 4.7% (mean 1.4%). CONCLUSIONS: The Mercury Phantom provided a close prediction of radiation dose and image noise in clinical patient images. By assessing dose and image quality in a phantom with multiple sizes, protocol parameters can be designed and optimized per patient size in a highly constrained setup to predict clinical scanner and ATCM system performance.
Ria, F; Solomon, JB; Wilson, JM; Samei, E
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