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To evaluate the accuracy and robustness of a simple, linear, separable, two-parameter model (basis vector model, BVM) in mapping protonstopping powers dual energy computed tomography (DECT) imaging.

The BVM assumes that photon cross sections (attenuation coefficients) of unknown materials are linear combinations of the corresponding radiological quantities of dissimilar basis substances (i.e., polystyrene, CaCl aqueous solution, and water). The authors have extended this approach to the estimation of electron density and mean excitation energy, which are required parameters for computing protonstopping powers via the Bethe–Bloch equation. The authors compared the stopping power estimation accuracy of the BVM with that of a nonlinear, nonseparable photon cross section Torikoshi parametric fit model (VCU tPFM) as implemented by the authors and by Yang [“Theoretical variance analysis of single- and dual-energy computed tomography methods for calculating protonstopping power ratios of biological tissues,” Phys. Med. Biol. , 1343–1362 (2010)]. Using an idealized monoenergetic DECT imaging model, proton ranges estimated by the BVM, VCU tPFM, and Yang tPFM were compared to International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU) published reference values. The robustness of the stopping power prediction accuracy of tissue composition variations was assessed for both of the BVM and VCU tPFM. The sensitivity of accuracy to CTimageuncertainty was also evaluated.

Based on the authors’ idealized, error-free DECT imaging model, the root-mean-square error of BVM protonstopping power estimation for 175 MeV protons relative to ICRU reference values for 34 ICRU standard tissues is 0.20%, compared to 0.23% and 0.68% for the Yang and VCU tPFM models, respectively. The range estimation errors were less than 1 mm for the BVM and Yang tPFM models, respectively. The BVM estimation accuracy is not dependent on tissue type and proton energy range. The BVM is slightly more vulnerable to CTimage intensity uncertainties than the tPFM models. Both the BVM and tPFM prediction accuracies were robust to uncertainties of tissue composition and independent of the choice of reference values. This reported accuracy does not include the impacts of -value uncertainties and imaging artifacts and may not be achievable on current clinical CT scanners.

The protonstopping power estimation accuracy of the proposed linear, separable BVM model is comparable to or better than that of the nonseparable tPFM models proposed by other groups. In contrast to the tPFM, the BVM does not require an iterative solving for effective atomic number and electron density at every voxel; this improves the computational efficiency of DECT imaging when iterative, model-based image reconstruction algorithms are used to minimize noise and systematic imaging artifacts of CTimages.


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