Use of electronic portal imaging devices for electron treatment verification
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This study aims to help broaden the use of electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs) for pre-treatment patient positioning verification, from photon-beam radiotherapy to photon- and electron-beam radiotherapy, by proposing and testing a method for acquiring clinically-useful EPID images of patient anatomy using electron beams, with a view to enabling and encouraging further research in this area. EPID images used in this study were acquired using all available beams from a linac configured to deliver electron beams with nominal energies of 6, 9, 12, 16 and 20 MeV, as well as photon beams with nominal energies of 6 and 10 MV. A widely-available heterogeneous, approximately-humanoid, thorax phantom was used, to provide an indication of the contrast and noise produced when imaging different types of tissue with comparatively realistic thicknesses. The acquired images were automatically calibrated, corrected for the effects of variations in the sensitivity of individual photodiodes, using a flood field image. For electron beam imaging, flood field EPID calibration images were acquired with and without the placement of blocks of water-equivalent plastic (with thicknesses approximately equal to the practical range of electrons in the plastic) placed upstream of the EPID, to filter out the primary electron beam, leaving only the bremsstrahlung photon signal. While the electron beam images acquired using a standard (unfiltered) flood field calibration were observed to be noisy and difficult to interpret, the electron beam images acquired using the filtered flood field calibration showed tissues and bony anatomy with levels of contrast and noise that were similar to the contrast and noise levels seen in the clinically acceptable photon beam EPID images. The best electron beam imaging results (highest contrast, signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios) were achieved when the images were acquired using the higher energy electron beams (16 and 20 MeV) when the EPID was calibrated using an intermediate (12 MeV) electron beam energy. These results demonstrate the feasibility of acquiring clinically-useful EPID images of patient anatomy using electron beams and suggest important avenues for future investigation, thus enabling and encouraging further research in this area. There is manifest potential for the EPID imaging method proposed in this work to lead to the clinical use of electron beam imaging for geometric verification of electron treatments in the future.
KeywordsElectrons Portal imaging Radiation therapy
The authors wish to acknowledge the valued contributions of the following participants at the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) Queensland Branch 2014 Winter School on Scientific Publication: Jacqueline Charles, Paul Charles, Allison Fox, Robin Hill, Benjamin Harris, Emma Inness, Vaughan Moutrie, Zoë Moutrie, Patrick O’Connor, Bess Sutherland, Steven Sylvander, Luke Webb, Rachael Wilks and Nancy Yu. This work was supported by the Australian Research Council, the Wesley Research Institute, Premion (Genesis Cancer Care Queensland) and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), through linkage Grant Number LP110100401.
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