Real-time tomosynthesis for radiation therapy guidance

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Fluoroscopy has been a tool of choice for monitoring treatments or interventions because of its extremely fast imaging times. However, the contrast obtained in fluoroscopy may be insufficient for certain clinical applications. In stereotactic ablative radiation therapy of the lung, fluoroscopy often lacks sufficient contrast for gating treatment. The purpose of this work is to describe and assess a real-time tomosynthesis design that can produce sufficient contrast for guidance of lung tumor treatment within a small field of view.


Previous tomosynthesis designs in radiation oncology have temporal resolution on the order of seconds. The proposed system design uses parallel acquisition of multiple frames by simultaneously illuminating the field of view with multiple sources, enabling a temporal resolution of up to 30 frames per second. For a small field of view, a single flat-panel detector could be used if different sectors of the detector are assigned to specific sources. Simulated images were generated by forward projection of existing clinical datasets. The authors varied the number of tubes and the power of each tube in order to determine the impact on tumor visualization.


Visualization of the tumor was much clearer in tomosynthesis than in fluoroscopy. Contrast generally improved with the number of sources used, and a minimum of four sources should be used. The high contrast of the lung allows very low system power, and in most cases, less than 1 mA was needed. More power is required in the lateral direction than the AP direction.


The proposed system produces images adequate for real-time guidance of radiation therapy. The additional hardware requirements are modest, and the system is capable of imaging at high frame rates and low dose. Further development, including a prototype system and a dosimetry study, is needed to further evaluate the feasibility of this device for radiation therapy guidance.

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