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The authors recently proposed a dynamic, prepatient x-ray attenuator capable of producing a piecewise-linear attenuation profile customized to each patient and viewing angle. This attenuator was intended to reduce scatter-to-primary ratio (SPR), dynamic range, and dose by redistributing flux. In this work the authors tested the ability of the attenuator to reduce dose and SPR in simulations.

The authors selected four clinical applications, including routine full field-of-view scans of the thorax and abdomen, and targeted reconstruction tasks for an abdominal aortic aneurysm and the pancreas. Raw data were estimated by forward projection of the image volume datasets. The dynamic attenuator was controlled to reduce dose while maintaining peak variance by solving a convex optimization problem, assuming knowledge of the patient anatomy. In targeted reconstruction tasks, the noise in specific regions was given increased weighting. A system with a standard attenuator (or “bowtie filter”) was used as a reference, and used either convex optimized tube current modulation (TCM) or a standard TCM heuristic. The noise of the scan was determined analytically while the dose was estimated using Monte Carlo simulations. Scatter was also estimated using Monte Carlo simulations. The sensitivity of the dynamic attenuator to patient centering was also examined by shifting the abdomen in 2 cm intervals.

Compared to a reference system with optimized TCM, use of the dynamic attenuator reduced dose by about 30% in routine scans and 50% in targeted scans. Compared to the TCM heuristics which are typically used without knowledge, the dose reduction is about 50% for routine scans. The dynamic attenuator gives the ability to redistribute noise and variance and produces more uniform noise profiles than systems with a conventional bowtie filter. The SPR was also modestly reduced by 10% in the thorax and 24% in the abdomen. Imaging with the dynamic attenuator was relatively insensitive to patient centering, showing a 17% increase in peak variance for a 6 cm shift of the abdomen, instead of an 82% increase in peak variance for a fixed bowtie filter.

A dynamic prepatient x-ray attenuator consisting of multiple wedges is capable of achieving substantial dose reductions and modest SPR reductions.


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