The study was to describe and to compare the performance of 3D and 4D CBCT imaging modalities by measuring and analyzing the delivered dose and the image quality. The 3D (Chest) and 4D (Symmetry) CBCT Elekta XVI lung IGRT protocols were analyzed. Dose profiles were measured with TLDs inside a dedicated phantom. The dosimetric indicator cone-beam dose index (CBDI) was evaluated. The image quality analysis was performed by assessing the contrast transfer function (CTF), the noise power spectrum (NPS) and the noise-equivalent quanta (NEQ). Artifacts were also evaluated by simulating irregular breathing variations. The two imaging modalities showed different dose distributions within the phantom. At the center, the 3D CBCT delivered twice the dose of the 4D CBCT. The CTF was strongly reduced by motion compared to static conditions, resulting in a CTF reduction of 85% for the 3D CBCT and 65% for the 4D CBCT. The amplitude of the NPS was two times higher for the 4D CBCT than for the 3D CBCT. In the presence of motion, the NEQ of the 4D CBCT was 50% higher than the 3D CBCT. In the presence of breathing irregularities, the 4D CBCT protocol was mainly affected by view-aliasing artifacts, which were typically cone-beam artifacts, while the 3D CBCT protocol was mainly affected by duplication artifacts. The results showed that the 4D CBCT ensures a reasonable dose and better image quality when moving targets are involved compared to 3D CBCT. Therefore, 4D CBCT is a reliable imaging modality for lung free-breathing radiation therapy.
PACS number(s): 87.57.C-, 87.57.uq, 87.53.Ly