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A feasibility study of time of flight cone beam computed tomography imaging.



The time of flight (TOF) cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) was recently shown to reduce the X-ray scattering effects by 95% and improve the image CNR by 110% for large volume objects. The advancements in X-ray sources like in compact Free Electron Lasers (FEL) and advancements in detector technology show potential for the TOF method to be feasible in CBCT when imaging large objects.


To investigate the feasibility and efficacy of TOF CBCT in imaging smaller objects with different targets such as bones and tumors embedded inside the background.


The TOF method used in this work was verified using a 24 cm phantom. Then, the GATE software was used to simulate the CBCT imaging of an 8 cm diameter cylindrical water phantom with two bone targets using a modeled 20 keV quasi-energetic FEL source and various TOF resolutions ranging from 1 to 1000 ps. An inhomogeneous breast phantom of similar size with tumor targets was also imaged using the same system setup.


The same results were obtained in the 24 cm phantom, which validated the applied CBCT simulation approach. For the case of 8 cm cylindrical phantom and bone target, a TOF resolution of 10 ps improved the image contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) by 57% and reduced the scatter-to-primary ratio (SPR) by 8.63. For the case of breast phantom and tumor target, image CNR was enhanced by 12% and SPR was reduced by 1.35 at 5 ps temporal resolution.


This study indicates that a TOF resolution below 10 ps is required to observe notable enhancements in the image quality and scatter reduction for small objects around 8 cm in diameter. The strong scattering targets such as bone can result in substantial improvements by using TOF CBCT.

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