A novel method for quantification of beam's-eye-view tumor tracking performance
In-treatment imaging using an electronic portal imaging device (EPID) can be used to confirm patient and tumor positioning. Real-time tumor tracking performance using current digital megavolt (MV) imagers is hindered by poor image quality. Novel EPID designs may help to improve quantum noise response, while also preserving the high spatial resolution of the current clinical detector. Recently investigated EPID design improvements include but are not limited to multi-layer imager (MLI) architecture, thick crystalline and amorphous scintillators, and phosphor pixilation and focusing. The goal of the present study was to provide a method of quantitating improvement in tracking performance as well as to reveal the physical underpinnings of detector design that impact tracking quality. The study employs a generalizable ideal observer methodology for the quantification of tumor tracking performance. The analysis is applied to study both the effect of increasing scintillator thickness on a standard, single-layer imager (SLI) design as well as the effect of MLI architecture on tracking performance.Methods:
The present study uses the ideal observer signal-to-noise ratio (d′) as a surrogate for tracking performance. We employ functions which model clinically relevant tasks and generalized frequency-domain imaging metrics to connect image quality with tumor tracking. A detection task for relevant Cartesian shapes (i.e., spheres and cylinders) was used to quantitate trackability of cases employing fiducial markers. Automated lung tumor tracking algorithms often leverage the differences in benign and malignant lung tissue textures. These types of algorithms (e.g., soft-tissue localization – STiL) were simulated by designing a discrimination task, which quantifies the differentiation of tissue textures, measured experimentally and fit as a power-law in trend (with exponent β) using a cohort of MV images of patient lungs. The modeled MTF and NPS were used to investigate the effect of scintillator thickness and MLI architecture on tumor tracking performance.Results:
Quantification of MV images of lung tissue as an inverse power-law with respect to frequency yields exponent values of β = 3.11 and 3.29 for benign and malignant tissues, respectively. Tracking performance with and without fiducials was found to be generally limited by quantum noise, a factor dominated by quantum detective efficiency (QDE). For generic SLI construction, increasing the scintillator thickness (gadolinium oxysulfide – GOS) from a standard 290 μm to 1720 μm reduces noise to about 10%. However, 81% of this reduction is appreciated between 290 and 1000 μm. In comparing MLI and SLI detectors of equivalent individual GOS layer thickness, the improvement in noise is equal to the number of layers in the detector (i.e., 4) with almost no difference in MTF. Further, improvement in tracking performance was slightly less than the square-root of the reduction in noise, approximately 84–90%. In comparing an MLI detector with an SLI with a GOS scintillator of equivalent total thickness, improvement in object detectability is approximately 34–39%.Conclusions:
We have presented a novel method for quantification of tumor tracking quality and have applied this model to evaluate the performance of SLI and MLI EPID designs. We showed that improved tracking quality is primarily limited by improvements in NPS. When compared to very thick scintillator SLI, employing MLI architecture exhibits the same gains in QDE, but by mitigating the effect of optical Swank noise, results in more dramatic improvements in tracking performance.