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In modern radiotherapy treatment rooms, megavoltage (MV) portal imaging and kilovoltage (kV) cone-beam CT (CBCT) imaging are performed using various active matrix flat-panel imager (AMFPI) designs. To expand the clinical utility of MV and kV imaging, MV AMFPIs incorporating thick, segmented scintillators and, separately, kV imaging using a beam’s eye view geometry have been investigated by a number of groups. Motivated by these previous studies, it is of interest to explore to what extent it is possible to preserve the benefits of kV and MV imaging using a single AMFPI design, given the considerably different x ray energy spectra used for kV and MV imaging. In this paper, considerations for the design of such a dual energy imager are explored through examination of the performance of a variety of hypothetical AMFPIs based on x ray converters employing segmented scintillators.

Contrast, noise, and contrast-to-noise ratio performances were characterized through simulation modeling of CBCT imaging, while modulation transfer function, Swank factor, and signal performance were characterized through simulation modeling of planar imaging. The simulations were based on a previously reported hybrid modeling technique (accounting for both radiation and optical effects), augmented through modeling of electronic additive noise. All designs employed BGO scintillator material with thicknesses ranging from 0.25 to 4 cm and element-to-element pitches ranging from 0.508 to 1.016 mm. A series of studies were performed under both kV and MV imaging conditions to determine the most advantageous imager configuration (involving front or rear x ray illumination and use of a mirror or black reflector), converter design (pitch and thickness), and operating mode (pitch-binning combination).

Under the assumptions of the present study, the most advantageous imager design was found to employ rear illumination of the converter in combination with a black reflector, incorporate a BGO converter with a 0.508 mm pitch and a 2 cm thickness, and operate at full resolution for kV imaging and 2 × 2 binning mode for MV imaging. Such a dual energy imager design should provide soft tissue visualization at low, clinically practical doses under MV conditions, while helping to preserve the high spatial resolution and high contrast offered by kV imaging.

The authors’ theoretical investigation suggests that a dual energy imager capable of largely preserving the desirable characteristics of both kV and MV imaging is feasible. Such an imager, when coupled to a dual energy radiation source, could facilitate simplification of current treatment room imaging systems (as well as their associated quality assurance), and facilitate more precise integration of kV and MV imaging information by virtue of reduced geometric uncertainties.


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