An advanced image processing method to improve the spatial resolution of ion radiographies

TitleAn advanced image processing method to improve the spatial resolution of ion radiographies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsKrah, N, Testa, M, Brons, S, Jäkel, O, Parodi, K, Voss, B, Rinaldi, I
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology

We present an optimization method to improve the spatial resolution and the water equivalent thickness (WET) accuracy of ion radiographies. The method is designed for imaging systems measuring for each actively scanned beam spot the lateral position of the pencil beam and at the same time the Bragg curve (behind the target) in discrete steps without relying on tracker detectors to determine the ion trajectory before and after the irradiated volume. Specifically, the method was used for an imaging set-up consisting of a stack of 61 parallel-plate ionization chambers (PPIC) interleaved with absorber plates of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) working as a range telescope. The method uses not only the Bragg peak position, but approximates the entire measured Bragg curve as a superposition of differently shifted Bragg curves. Their relative weights allow to reconstruct the distribution of thickness around each scan spot of a heterogeneous phantom. The approach also allows merging the ion radiography with the geometric information of a co-registered x-ray radiography in order to increase its spatial resolution. The method was tested using Monte Carlo simulated and experimental proton radiographies of a PMMA step phantom and an anthropomorphic head phantom. For the step phantom, the effective spatial resolution was found to be 6 and 4 times higher than the nominal resolution for the simulated and experimental radiographies, respectively. For the head phantom, a gamma index was calculated to quantify the conformity of the simulated proton radiographies with a digitally reconstructed radiography (DRR) obtained from an x-ray CT and properly converted into WET. For a distance-to-agreement (DTA) of 2.5 mm and a relative WET difference (RWET) of 2.5%, the passing ratio was 100%/85% for the optimized/non-optimized case, respectively. When the optimized proton radiography was merged with the co-registered DRR, the passing ratio was 100% at DTA  =  1.3 mm and RWET  =  1.3%. A special interpolation method allows to strongly reduce the dose by using a coarser grid of the measured beam spot position with a 5 times larger grid distance. We show that despite a dose reduction of 25 times (leading to a dose of 0.016 mGy for the current imaging set-up), the image quality of the optimized radiographies remains fairly unaffected for both the simulated and experimental case.

Citation KeyKrah2015a