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Improved tissue assignment using dual-energy computed tomography in low-dose rate prostate brachytherapy for Monte Carlo dose calculation
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An improvement in tissue assignment for low-dose rate brachytherapy (LDRB) patients using more accurate Monte Carlo(MC)dose calculation was accomplished with a metallic artifact reduction (MAR) method specific to dual-energy computed tomography (DECT).
The proposed MAR algorithm followed a four-step procedure. The first step involved applying a weighted blend of both DECT scans (IH/L) to generate a new image (IMix). This action minimized Hounsfield unit (HU) variations surrounding the brachytherapy seeds. In the second step, the mean HU of the prostate in IMix was calculated and shifted toward the mean HU of the two original DECT images (IH/L). The third step involved smoothing the newly shifted IMix and the two original IH/L, followed by a subtraction of both, generating an image that represented the metallic artifact (IA,(H/L)) of reduced noise levels. The final step consisted of subtracting the original IH/L from the newly generated IA,(H/L) and obtaining a final image corrected for metallic artifacts. Following the completion of the algorithm, a DECT stoichiometric method was used to extract the relative electronic density (ρe) and effective atomic number (Zeff) at each voxel of the corrected scans. Tissue assignment could then be determined with these two newly acquired physical parameters. Each voxel was assigned the tissue bearing the closest resemblance in terms of ρe and Zeff, comparing with values from the ICRU 42 database. A MC study was then performed to compare the dosimetric impacts of alternative MAR algorithms.
An improvement in tissue assignment was observed with the DECT MAR algorithm, compared to the single-energy computed tomography (SECT) approach. In a phantom study, tissue misassignment was found to reach 0.05% of voxels using the DECT approach, compared with 0.40% using the SECT method. Comparison of the DECT and SECT D90dose parameter (volume receiving 90% of the dose) indicated that D90 could be underestimated by up to 2.3% using the SECT method.
The DECT MAR approach is a simple alternative to reduce metallic artifacts found in LDRB patient scans. Images can be processed quickly and do not require the determination of x-ray spectra. Substantial information on density and atomic number can also be obtained. Furthermore, calcifications within the prostate are detected by the tissue assignment algorithm. This enables more accurate, patient-specific MCdose calculations.
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