We discovered an empirical relationship between the logarithm of mean excitation energy (ln Im) and the effective atomic number (EAN) of human tissues, which allows for computing patient-specific proton stopping power ratios (SPRs) using dual-energy CT (DECT) imaging. The accuracy of the DECT method was evaluated for 'standard' human tissues as well as their variance. The DECT method was compared to the existing standard clinical practice - a procedure introduced by Schneider et al at the Paul Scherrer Institute (the stoichiometric calibration method). In this simulation study, SPRs were derived from calculated CT numbers of known material compositions, rather than from measurement. For standard human tissues, both methods achieved good accuracy with the root-mean-square (RMS) error well below 1%. For human tissues with small perturbations from standard human tissue compositions, the DECT method was shown to be less sensitive than the stoichiometric calibration method. The RMS error remained below 1% for most cases using the DECT method, which implies that the DECT method might be more suitable for measuring patient-specific tissue compositions to improve the accuracy of treatment planning for charged particle therapy. In this study, the effects of CT imaging artifacts due to the beam hardening effect, scatter, noise, patient movement, etc were not analyzed. The true potential of the DECT method achieved in theoretical conditions may not be fully achievable in clinical settings. Further research and development may be needed to take advantage of the DECT method to characterize individual human tissues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging