The conventional imaging geometry for small animal cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is that a detector panel rotates around the head-to-tail axis of an imaged animal ('tubular' geometry). Another unusual but possible imaging geometry is that the detector panel rotates around the anterior-to-posterior axis of the animal ('pancake' geometry). The small animal radiation research platform developed at Johns Hopkins University employs the pancake geometry where a prone-positioned animal is rotated horizontally between an x-ray source and detector panel. This study is to assess the CBCT image quality in the pancake geometry and investigate potential methods for improvement. We compared CBCT images acquired in the pancake geometry with those acquired in the tubular geometry when the phantom/animal was placed upright simulating the conventional CBCT geometry. Results showed signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios in the pancake geometry were reduced in comparison to the tubular geometry at the same dose level. But the overall spatial resolution within the transverse plane of the imaged cylinder/animal was better in the pancake geometry. A modest exposure increase to two folds in the pancake geometry can improve image quality to a level close to the tubular geometry. Image quality can also be improved by inclining the animal, which reduces streak artifacts caused by bony structures. The major factor resulting in the inferior image quality in the pancake geometry is the elevated beam attenuation along the long axis of the phantom/animal and consequently increased scatter-to-primary ratio in that orientation. Not withstanding, the image quality in the pancake-geometry CBCT is adequate to support image guided animal positioning, while providing unique advantages of non-coplanar and multiple mice irradiation. This study also provides useful knowledge about the image quality in the two very different imaging geometries, i.e. pancake and tubular geometry, respectively.
- Cone beam computed tomography
- image guidance
- image quality
- small animal irradiation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging