A mass-conserving 4D XCAT phantom for dose calculation and accumulation

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The XCAT phantom is a realistic 4D digital torso phantom that is widely used in imaging and therapy research. However, lung mass is not conserved between respiratory phases of the phantom, making detailed dosimetric simulations and dose accumulation unphysical. A framework is developed to correct this issue by enforcing local mass conservation in the XCAT lung. Dose calculations are performed to assess the implications of neglecting mass conservation, and to demonstrate an application of the phantom to calculate the accumulated delivered dose in an irregularly breathing patient.


A displacement vector field (DVF) between each respiratory state and a reference image is generated from the XCAT motion model and its divergence is calculated and used to correct the lung density. A series of phantoms with regular and irregular breathing (based on patient data) are generated and modified to conserve mass. Monte Carlo methods are used to simulate conventional and SBRT treatment delivery. The calculated dose is deformed and accumulated using the DVF. Results from the mass-conserving and original XCAT are compared. A 4DCT is simulated for the irregularly breathing patient, and a 4DCT-based dose estimate is compared with the accumulated delivered dose.


The presented framework successfully conserves mass in the XCAT lung. The spatial distribution of the lung dose was qualitatively changed by the use of a mass conservation in the XCAT; however, the corresponding DVH did not change significantly. The comparison of the delivered dose with the 4DCT-based prediction shows similar lung metric results, however dose differences of 10% can be seen in some spatial regions.


The XCAT phantom has been successfully modified so that it conserves lung mass during respiration, enabling it to be used as a tool to perform dose accumulation studies in the lung without relying on deformable image registration. Neglecting mass conservation can result in erroneous spatial distributions of the dose in the lung. Using this tool to simulate patient treatments reveals differences between the planned dose and the calculated delivered dose for the full treatment. The software is freely available from the authors.

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