Simplified derivation of stopping power ratio in the human body from dual-energy CT data

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Abstract

Purpose:

The main objective of this study is to propose an alternative parameterization for the empirical relation between mean excitation energies (I-value) and effective atomic numbers (Zeff) of human tissues, and to present a simplified formulation (which we called DEEDZ-SPR) for deriving the stopping power ratio (SPR) from dual-energy (DE) CT data via electron density (ρe) and Zeff calibration.

Methods:

We performed a numerical analysis of this DEEDZ-SPR method for the human-body-equivalent tissues of ICRU Report 46, as objects of interest with unknown SPR and ρe. The attenuation coefficients of these materials were calculated using the XCOM photon cross-sections database. We also applied the DEEDZ-SPR conversion to experimental DECT data available in the literature, which was measured for the tissue-characterization phantom using a dual-source CT scanner at 80 kV and 140 kV/Sn.

Results:

It was found that the DEEDZ-SPR conversion enables the calculation of SPR simply by means of the weighted subtraction of an electron-density image and a low- or high-kV CT image. The simulated SPRs were in excellent agreement with the reference values over the SPR range from 0.258 (lung) to 3.638 (bone mineral-hydroxyapatite). The relative deviations from the reference SPR were within ±0.6% for all ICRU-46 human tissues, except for the thyroid that presented a −1.1% deviation. The overall root-mean-square error was 0.21%. Application to experimental DECT data confirmed this agreement within the experimental accuracy, which demonstrates the practical feasibility of the method.

Conclusions:

The DEEDZ-SPR conversion method could facilitate the construction of SPR images as accurately as a recent DECT-based calibration procedure of SPR parameterization based directly on the CT numbers in a DECT data set.

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