Cone-beam computed tomography systems have been developed to provide in situ imaging for the purpose of guiding radiation therapy. Clinical systems have been constructed using this approach, a clinical linear accelerator (Elekta Synergy RP) and an iso-centric C-arm. Geometric calibration involves the estimation of a set of parameters that describes the geometry of such systems, and is essential for accurate image reconstruction. We have developed a general analytic algorithm and corresponding calibration phantom for estimating these geometric parameters in cone-beam computed tomography (CT) systems. The performance of the calibration algorithm is evaluated and its application is discussed. The algorithm makes use of a calibration phantom to estimate the geometric parameters of the system. The phantom consists of 24 steel ball bearings (BBs) in a known geometry. Twelve BBs are spaced evenly at 30 deg in two plane-parallel circles separated by a given distance along the tube axis. The detector (e.g., a flat panel detector) is assumed to have no spatial distortion. The method estimates geometric parameters including the position of the x-ray source, position, and rotation of the detector, and gantry angle, and can describe complex source-detector trajectories. The accuracy and sensitivity of the calibration algorithm was analyzed. The calibration algorithm estimates geometric parameters in a high level of accuracy such that the quality of CT reconstruction is not degraded by the error of estimation. Sensitivity analysis shows uncertainty of 0.01° (around beam direction) to 0.3° (normal to the beam direction) in rotation, and 0.2 mm (orthogonal to the beam direction) to 4.9 mm (beam direction) in position for the medical linear accelerator geometry. Experimental measurements using a laboratory bench Cone-beam CT system of known geometry demonstrate the sensitivity of the method in detecting small changes in the imaging geometry with an uncertainty of 0.1 mm in transverse and vertical (perpendicular to the beam direction) and 1.0 mm in the longitudinal (beam axis) directions. The calibration algorithm was compared to a previously reported method, which uses one ball bearing at the isocenter of the system, to investigate the impact of more precise calibration on the image quality of cone-beam CT reconstruction. A thin steel wire located inside the calibration phantom was imaged on the cone-beam CT lab bench with and without perturbations in source and detector position during the scan. The described calibration method improved the quality of the image and the geometric accuracy of the object reconstructed, improving the full width at half maximum of the wire by 27.5% and increasing contrast of the wire by 52.8%. The proposed method is not limited to the geometric calibration of cone-beam CT systems but can be used for many other systems, which consist of one or more point sources and area detectors such as calibration of megavoltage (MV) treatment system (focal spot movement during the beam delivery, MV source trajectory versus gantry angle, the axis of collimator rotation, and couch motion), cross calibration between Kilovolt imaging and MV treatment system, and cross calibration between multiple imaging systems. Using the complete information of the system geometry, it was demonstrated that high image quality in CT reconstructions is possible even in systems with large geometric nonidealities.
- Cone-beam computed tomography
- Flat-panel detector
- Geometric calibration
- Linear accelerator
- Radiation therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging