Small animal research allows detailed study of biological processes, disease progression and response to therapy with the potential to provide a natural bridge to the clinical environment. The small animal radiation research platform (SARRP) is a portable system for precision irradiation with beam sizes down to approximately 0.5 mm and optimally planned radiation with on-board cone-beam CT (CBCT) guidance. This paper focuses on the geometric calibration of the system for high-precision irradiation. A novel technique for the calibration of the treatment beam is presented, which employs an x-ray camera whose precise positioning need not be known. Using the camera system we acquired a digitally reconstructed 3D 'star shot' for gantry calibration and then developed a technique to align each beam to a common isocenter with the robotic animal positioning stages. The calibration incorporates localization by cone-beam CT guidance. Uncorrected offsets of the beams with respect to the calibration origin ranged from 0.4 mm to 5.2 mm. With corrections, these alignment errors can be reduced to the sub-millimeter range. The calibration technique was used to deliver a stereotactic-like arc treatment to a phantom constructed with EBT Gafchromic films. All beams were shown to intersect at a common isocenter with a measured beam (FWHM) of approximately 1.07 mm using the 0.5 mm collimated beam. The desired positioning accuracy of the SARRP is 0.25 mm and the results indicate an accuracy of 0.2 mm. To fully realize the radiation localization capabilities of the SARRP, precise geometric calibration is required, as with any such system. The x-ray camera-based technique presented here provides a straightforward and semi-automatic method for system calibration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging