Registration of pencil beam proton radiography data with X-ray CT

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Proton radiography seems to be a promising tool for assessing the quality of the stopping power computation in proton therapy. However, range error maps obtained on the basis of proton radiographs are very sensitive to small misalignment between the planning CT and the proton radiography acquisitions. In order to be able to mitigate misalignment in postprocessing, the authors implemented a fast method for registration between pencil proton radiography data obtained with a multilayer ionization chamber (MLIC) and an X-ray CT acquired on a head phantom.


The registration was performed by optimizing a cost function which performs a comparison between the acquired data and simulated integral depth-dose curves. Two methodologies were considered, one based on dual orthogonal projections and the other one on a single projection. For each methodology, the robustness of the registration algorithm with respect to three confounding factors (measurement noise, CT calibration errors, and spot spacing) was investigated by testing the accuracy of the method through simulations based on a CT scan of a head phantom.


The present registration method showed robust convergence towards the optimal solution. For the level of measurement noise and the uncertainty in the stopping power computation expected in proton radiography using a MLIC, the accuracy appeared to be better than 0.3° for angles and 0.3 mm for translations by use of the appropriate cost function. The spot spacing analysis showed that a spacing larger than the 5 mm used by other authors for the investigation of a MLIC for proton radiography led to results with absolute accuracy better than 0.3° for angles and 1 mm for translations when orthogonal proton radiographs were fed into the algorithm. In the case of a single projection, 6 mm was the largest spot spacing presenting an acceptable registration accuracy.


For registration of proton radiography data with X-ray CT, the use of a direct ray-tracing algorithm to compute sums of squared differences and corrections of range errors showed very good accuracy and robustness with respect to three confounding factors: measurement noise, calibration error, and spot spacing. It is therefore a suitable algorithm to use in the in vivo range verification framework, allowing to separate in postprocessing the proton range uncertainty due to setup errors from the other sources of uncertainty.

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