Image guided radiotherapy (IGRT) based on respiration correlated cone-beam CT (4D-CBCT) provides accurate tumour localisation in lung cancer patients by taking into account respiratory motion when deriving setup correction. However, 4D-CBCT scan times are typically longer than for acquisition of 3D-CBCT scans, e.g. 4 min. This work aims to quantitatively evaluate the effect of reduced scan times on 4D-CBCT image quality and registration accuracy in lung cancer patients.
Methods and materials
Scan times down to 1 min were simulated by retaining only projection images corresponding to every second, third or fourth respiratory cycle in forty-four 4D-CBCTs from 15 lung cancer patients. In addition twenty 2-minute scans were acquired for 12 lung cancer patients. Image quality was quantified by assessing registration accuracy in the shorter scan times, comparing to the 4-minute scan registration result where available as reference.
Use of 2-minute scans had little impact on registration accuracy or ability to detect tumour motion: automatic registration accuracy was within 2 mm in 6/8 scans analysed with 2-minute acquisitions, and 96.6% of registration discrepancies were within 2 mm for the simulated scans. When the scan time simulated was below 2 min, automatic registration results still agreed within 2 mm for 84.7% of scans, however visual image quality was considerably degraded.
A 4D-CBCT acquisition time of 2 min produces scans of sufficient image quality for IGRT in most lung cancer patients, as demonstrated quantitatively by assessing the impact on automatic registration accuracy in simulated and real acquisitions.