Dose Calculation on KV Cone Beam CT Images: An Investigation of the Hu-Density Conversion Stability and Dose Accuracy Using the Site-Specific Calibration

Yi Rong, Jennifer Smilowitz, Dinesh Tewatia, Wolfgang A. Tomé, Bhudatt Paliwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Precise calibration of Hounsfield units (HU) to electron density (HU-density) is essential to dose calculation. On-board kV cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) imaging is used predominantly for patients' positioning, but will potentially be used for dose calculation. The impacts of varying 3 imaging parameters (mAs, source-imager distance [SID], and cone angle) and phantom size on the HU number accuracy and HU-density calibrations for CBCT imaging were studied. We proposed a site-specific calibration method to achieve higher accuracy in CBCT image-based dose calculation. Three configurations of the Computerized Imaging Reference Systems (CIRS) water equivalent electron density phantom were used to simulate sites including head, lungs, and lower body (abdomen/pelvis). The planning computed tomography (CT) scan was used as the baseline for comparisons. CBCT scans of these phantom configurations were performed using Varian Trilogy® system in a precalibrated mode with fixed tube voltage (125 kVp), but varied mAs, SID, and cone angle. An HU-density curve was generated and evaluated for each set of scan parameters. Three HU-density tables generated using different phantom configurations with the same imaging parameter settings were selected for dose calculation on CBCT images for an accuracy comparison. Changing mAs or SID had small impact on HU numbers. For adipose tissue, the HU discrepancy from the baseline was 20 HU in a small phantom, but 5 times lager in a large phantom. Yet, reducing the cone angle significantly decreases the HU discrepancy. The HU-density table was also affected accordingly. By performing dose comparison between CT and CBCT image-based plans, results showed that using the site-specific HU-density tables to calibrate CBCT images of different sites improves the dose accuracy to ~2%. Our phantom study showed that CBCT imaging can be a feasible option for dose computation in adaptive radiotherapy approach if the site-specific calibration is applied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-207
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Dosimetry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Calibration stability
  • Cone beam CT
  • Hounsfield units
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatment planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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