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The impact of secondary fragments on the image quality of helium ion imaging.


Single-event ion imaging enables the direct reconstruction of the relative stopping power (RSP) information required for ion-beam therapy. Helium ions were recently hypothesized to be the optimal species for such technique. The purpose of this work is to investigate the effect of secondary fragments on the image quality of helium CT (HeCT) and to assess the performance of a prototype proton CT (pCT) scanner when operated with helium beams in Monte Carlo simulations and experiment. Experiments were conducted installing the U.S. pCT consortium prototype scanner at the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center (HIT). Simulations were performed with the scanner using the TOPAS toolkit. HeCT images were reconstructed for a cylindrical water phantom, the CTP404 (sensitometry), and the CTP528 (line-pair) [Formula: see text] ® modules. To identify and remove individual events caused by fragmentation, the multistage energy detector of the scanner was adapted to function as a [Formula: see text] telescope. The use of the developed filter eliminated the otherwise arising ring artifacts in the HeCT reconstructed images. For the HeCT reconstructed images of a water phantom, the maximum RSP error was improved by almost a factor 8 with respect to unfiltered images in the simulation and a factor 10 in the experiment. Similarly, for the CTP404 module, the mean RSP accuracy improved by a factor 6 in both the simulation and the experiment when the filter was applied (mean relative error 0.40% in simulation, 0.45% in experiment). In the evaluation of the spatial resolution through the CTP528 module, the main effect of the filter was noise reduction. For both simulated and experimental images the spatial resolution was  ∼4 lp cm-1. In conclusion, the novel filter developed for secondary fragments proved to be effective in improving the visual quality and RSP accuracy of the reconstructed images. With the filter, the pCT scanner is capable of accurate HeCT imaging.

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