Experimental validation of a method characterizing bow tie filters in CT scanners using a real-time dose probe

Sarah E. McKenney, Anita Nosratieh, Dale Gelskey, Kai Yang, Shin Ying Huang, Lin Chen, John M Boone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Purpose: Beam-shaping or "bow tie" (BT) filters are used to spatially modulate the x-ray beam in a CT scanner, but the conventional method of step-and-shoot measurement to characterize a beam's profile is tedious and time-consuming. The theory for characterization of bow tie relative attenuation (COBRA) method, which relies on a real-time dosimeter to address the issues of conventional measurement techniques, was previously demonstrated using computer simulations. In this study, the feasibility of the COBRA theory is further validated experimentally through the employment of a prototype real-time radiation meter and a known BT filter. Methods: The COBRA method consisted of four basic steps: (1) The probe was placed at the edge of a scanner's field of view; (2) a real-time signal train was collected as the scanner's gantry rotated with the x-ray beam on; (3) the signal train, without a BT filter, was modeled using peak values measured in the signal train of step 2; and (4) the relative attenuation of the BT filter was estimated from filtered and unfiltered data sets. The prototype probe was first verified to have an isotropic and linear response to incident x-rays. The COBRA method was then tested on a dedicated breast CT scanner with a custom-designed BT filter and compared to the conventional step-and-shoot characterization of the BT filter. Using basis decomposition of dual energy signal data, the thickness of the filter was estimated and compared to the BT filter's manufacturing specifications. The COBRA method was also demonstrated with a clinical whole body CT scanner using the body BT filter. The relative attenuation was calculated at four discrete x-ray tube potentials and used to estimate the thickness of the BT filter. Results: The prototype probe was found to have a linear and isotropic response to x-rays. The relative attenuation produced from the COBRA method fell within the error of the relative attenuation measured with the step-and-shoot method. The BT filter thickness estimates resulting from the dual energy scans on the breast CT system were equivalent to the manufacturing specifications. The clinical CT evaluation produced data conceptually similar to previous computer simulations and plausible relative attenuation profiles were observed. Conclusions: The COBRA method is a fast and accurate method for BT filter characterization, which requires a simple experimental setup in a clinical environment. Because of the ease of data acquisition, multienergy scans can be acquired which allow characterization of the BT filter thickness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1406-1415
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • bow tie filter
  • CT
  • real-time dosimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Experimental validation of a method characterizing bow tie filters in CT scanners using a real-time dose probe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this