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A New Approach For Reducing Radiation Exposure During Cone Beam CT

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According to a new study, using a new approach in processing X-ray data would reduce, by nearly 10%, the radiation CT_scandelivered to patients while undergoing cone beam CT scans. The study was carried out by researchers from the University of California in San Diego. The study will be highlighted at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) in Philadelphia.

Cone beam CT is a very important component of the image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). The later is a recently-developed technique designed for treating cancer patients. IGRT utilizes multiple repeated scans throughout a course of radiotherapy to accurately target tumors and reduce radiation damage delivered to nearby health tissue to the minimum. Despite the significant impact of IGRT, concerns are raising between patients and doctors about its large radiation doses accumulating during repeated scans. Xun Jia, a UCSD postdoctoral fellow, the lead author of the study, said that the current approach for limiting the radiation dose includes reducing the total number of X-ray projections and the mAs level per projection. So throughout a CT scan, radiation exposure to a patient would be reduced. However, changing the number of X-ray projections results in noisy, mathematically incomplete data that require hours for processing using the current available reconstruction approaches.

During their study, Jia and his team designed a creative CT reconstruction algorithm for graphic processing unit (GPU) platforms. The GPU is processing data in parallel, improving computational efficiency and turn it possible to reconstruct a cone beam CT scan within two minutes. Jia explained "With our technique, we can reconstruct cone beam CT images with only a few projections, 40 in most cases, and lower mAs levels," he added "This considerably lowered the radiation dose." On the other hand, Steve Jiang, senior author of the study and a UCSD associate professor of radiation oncology, said "In my mind, the most interesting and compelling possibilities of this technique are beyond cancer radiotherapy," adding "CT dose has become a major concern of medical community. For each year's use of today's scanning technology, the resulting cancers could cause about 14,500 deaths.” Dr. Jiang concluded "Our work, when extended from cancer radiotherapy to general diagnostic imaging, may provide a unique solution to solve this problem by reducing the CT dose per scan by a factor of 10 or more,"

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