X-ray micro-computed tomography (μCT) is a widely used imaging modality in preclinical research with applications in many areas including orthopedics, pulmonology, oncology, cardiology, and infectious disease. X-rays are a form of ionizing radiation and, therefore, can potentially induce damage and cause detrimental effects. Previous reviews have touched on these effects but have not comprehensively covered the possible implications on study results. Furthermore, interpreting data across these studies is difficult because there is no widely accepted dose characterization methodology for preclinical μCT. The purpose of this paper is to ensure in vivo μCT studies can be properly designed and the data can be appropriately interpreted.
Studies from the scientific literature that investigate the biological effects of radiation doses relevant to μCT were reviewed. The different dose measurement methodologies used in the peer-reviewed literature were also reviewed. The CT dose index 100 (CTDI100) was then measured on the Quantum GX μCT instrument. A low contrast phantom, a hydroxyapatite phantom, and a mouse were also imaged to provide examples of how the dose can affect image quality.
Data in the scientific literature indicate that scenarios exist where radiation doses used in μCT imaging are high enough to potentially bias experimental results. The significance of this effect may relate to the study outcome and tissue being imaged. CTDI100 is a reasonable metric to use for dose characterization in μCT. Dose rates in the Quantum GX vary based on the amount of material in the beam path and are a function of X-ray tube voltage. The CTDI100 in air for a Quantum GX can be as low as 5.1 mGy for a 50 kVp scan and 9.9 mGy for a 90 kVp scan. This dose is low enough to visualize bone both in a mouse image and in a hydroxyapatite phantom, but applications requiring higher resolution in a mouse or less noise in a low-contrast phantom benefit from longer scan times with increased dose.
Dose management should be considered when designing μCT studies. Dose rates in the Quantum GX are compatible with longitudinal μCT imaging.
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- Dosimetry in Micro-computed Tomography: a Review of the Measurement Methods, Impacts, and Characterization of the Quantum GX Imaging System
Jeffrey A. Meganck
- Springer US
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