Purpose: A modular phantom for dosimetry and imaging performance evaluation in cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) is reported, providing a tool for quantitative technical assessment that can be adapted to a broad variety of CBCT imaging configurations and clinical applications. Methods: The phantom presents a set of modules that can be ordered in various configurations suitable to a particular CBCT system. Modules include slabs containing a uniform medium, low-contrast inserts, line-spread features, and disk features suitable to measurement of image uniformity, noise, noise-power spectrum (NPS), contrast, contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), Hounsfield (HU) accuracy, linearity, spatial resolution modulation transfer function (MTF), and magnitude of cone-beam artifact. Automated software recognizes the phantom configuration in DICOM images and provides structured reporting of such test measures. In any modular configuration, the phantom permits measurement of air kerma in central and peripheral locations with an air ionization chamber (e.g., Farmer chamber). The utility and adaptability of the phantom were demonstrated across a spectrum of CBCT systems, including scanners for orthopaedic imaging (Carestream OnSight 3D, Rochester NY), breast imaging (Doheny prototype, UC Davis), image-guided surgery (IGS, Medtronic O-arm, Littleton MA), angiography (Siemens Artis Zeego, Forcheim Germany), and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT, Elekta Synergy XVI, Stockholm Sweden). Results: The phantom provided a consistent platform for quantitative assessment of dose and imaging performance compatible with a broad spectrum of CBCT systems. The purpose of the survey was not to obtain head-to-head performance comparison of systems designed for such distinct clinical applications. Rather, the survey demonstrated the suitability of the phantom to a broad spectrum of systems in a manner that provides characterization pertinent to disparate applications and imaging tasks. For example: the orthopaedic CBCT system (pertinent clinical tasks relating to high-resolution bone imaging) was shown to achieve MTF consistent with imaging of high-contrast trabecular bone structures (i.e., the MTF reduced to 10% at spatial frequency, f10 = 1.2 mm−1); the breast system (even higher-resolution imaging of microcalcifications) exhibited f10 = 2.2 mm−1; the IGS system (tasks including both bone and soft-tissue contrast resolution) provided f10 = 0.9 mm−1 and soft-tissue CNR = 1.64; the angiography system (soft-tissue body interventions) demonstrated f10 = 1.2 in soft tissues approximating liver lesions; and the IGRT system (pertinent tasks emphasizing HU linearity and image uniformity) showed linear response with HU values (R2 = 1), with a cupping artifact (tcup = 5.8%) due to x-ray scatter. Conclusions: The phantom provides an adaptable, quantitative basis for CBCT dosimetry and imaging performance evaluation suitable to a broad variety of CBCT systems. The dosimetry and image quality metrics are consistent with up-to-date methods for rigorous, quantitative, physics testing and should be suitable to emerging standards for CBCT quality assurance.
- cone-beam CT
- image quality
- technical assessment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging