Comparison of single and dual energy CT for stopping power determination in proton therapy of head and neck cancer.
Background and purpose: Patients with head and neck (HN) cancer may benefit from proton therapy due to the potential for sparing of normal tissue. For planning of proton therapy, dual-energy CT (DECT) has been shown to provide superior stopping power ratio (SPR) determination in phantom materials and organic tissue samples, compared to single-energy CT (SECT). However, the benefit of DECT in HN cancer patients has not yet been investigated. This study therefore compared DECT- and SECT-based SPR estimation for HN cancer patients.
Materials and methods: Fourteen HN cancer patients were DECT scanned. Eight patients were scanned using a dual source DECT scanner and six were scanned with a conventional SECT scanner by acquiring two consecutive scans. SECT image sets were computed as a weighted summation of the low and high energy DECT image sets. DECT- and SECT-based SPR maps were derived. Water-equivalent path lengths (WEPLs) through the SPR maps were compared in the eight cases with dual source DECT scans. Mean SPR estimates over region-of-interests (ROIs) in the cranium, brain and eyes were analyzed for all patients.
Results: A median WEPL difference of 1.9 mm (1.5%) was found across the eight patients. Statistically significant SPR differences were seen for the ROIs in the brain and eyes, with the SPR estimates based on DECT overall lower than for SECT.
Conclusions: Clinically relevant WEPL and SPR differences were found between DECT and SECT, which could imply that the accuracy of treatment planning for proton therapy would benefit from DECT-based SPR estimation.