Method for evaluating bow tie filter angle-dependent attenuation in CT: Theory and simulation results

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Purpose: Dosimetry in computed tomography (CT) is increasingly based on Monte Carlo studies that define the dose in the patient (in mGy) as a function of air kerma (free in air) at isocenter (mGy). The accuracy of Monte Carlo studies depends in part on the accuracy of the characterization of the bow tie filter for a given CT scanner model. A simple method for characterizing the bow tie filter attenuation profile in CT scanners would therefore be very useful. The theory behind such a method is proposed. Methods: A measurement protocol is discussed mathematically and demonstrated using computer simulation. The proposed method requires the placement of a radiation monitor at the periphery of the CT field, and the time domain signal (kerma rate versus time) is measured with good temporal resolution (∼200 Hz or better) and with all other objects (e.g., patient couch) retracted from the field of view. Knowledge of the source to isocenter distance (or alternately, the isocenter to probe distance) is required. The stationary detector records the kerma rate versus time signal as the gantry rotates through several revolutions. From this temporal data, signal processing techniques are used to extract in-phase peaks, as well as out-of-phase kerma rate levels. From these data, the distance from isocenter to the probe can be determined (or, alternatively, the source to isocenter distance), and the angle-dependent bow tie filter attenuation can be computed. By measuring the angle-dependent bow tie filter attenuation at several kVp settings, the bow tie composition versus fan angle can be computed using basis decomposition techniques. Results: The simulations illustrated that with 2% added noise in the kerma rate versus time signal, the attenuation properties of a hypothetical two component (aluminum and polymethyl methacrylate) bow tie filter could be determined (r2>0.99). Although the computed basis material thicknesses were not exactly equal to the actual thicknesses, their combined attenuation factors matched that of the actual filter across kVp's to within an average of 0.057%. Conclusions: It is concluded that the proposed method may provide a simple noninvasive approach to characterizing the performance of bow tie filters in CT systems; however, experimental validation is necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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