A performance comparison of flat-panel imager-based MV and kV cone-beam CT

B. A. Groh, J. H. Siewerdsen, D. G. Drake, J. W. Wong, D. A. Jaffray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


The use of cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) has been proposed for guiding the delivery of radiation therapy, and investigators have examined the use of both kilovoltage (kV) and megavoltage (MV) x-ray beams in the development of such CBCT systems. In this paper, the inherent contrast and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) performance for a variety of existing and hypothetical detectors for CBCT are investigated analytically as a function of imaging dose and object size. Theoretical predictions are compared to the results of experimental investigations employing large-area flat-panel imagers (FPIs) at kV and MV energies. Measurements were performed on two different FPI-based CBCT systems: a bench-top prototype incorporating an FPI and kV x-ray source (100 kVp x rays), and a system incorporating an FPI mounted on the gantry of a medical linear accelerator (6 MV x rays). The SNR in volume reconstructions was measured as a function of dose and found to agree reasonably with theoretical predictions. These results confirm the theoretically predicted advantages of employing kV energy x rays in imaging soft-tissue structures found in the human body. While MV CBCT may provide a valuable means of correcting 3D setup errors and may offer an advantage in terms of simplicity of mechanical integration with a linear accelerator (e.g., implementation in place of a portal imager), kV CBCT offers significant performance advantages in terms of image contrast and SNR per unit dose for visualization of soft-tissue structures. The relatively poor SNR performance at MV energies is primarily a result of the low x-ray quantum efficiencies (a few percent or less) that are currently achieved with FPIs at high energies. Furthermore, kV CBCT with an FPI offers the potential of combined volumetric and radiographic/fluoroscopic imaging using the same device.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-975
Number of pages9
JournalMedical physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Computed tomography
  • Cone-beam CT
  • Flat-panel imager
  • Kilovoltage
  • Megavoltage
  • Signal-to-noise ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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