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Medical scans: reducing doses without compromising on diagnostic quality

​List, a CEA Tech institute, developed a mathematical model to improve medical imaging protocols so that the lowest possible dose of ionizing radiation can be used without negatively affecting the reliability of the diagnosis.

Published on 23 May 2019

The level of exposure to radiation during medical scans has been on the rise for a number of years, creating increased health risks for patients. Researchers at List, a CEA Tech institute, have developed new indicators to keep the dose of radiation delivered to a patient during a scan to a strict minimum. The first is used to estimate the dose received by the patient as reliably as possible; the second evaluates the quality of the images produced.

The researchers began by developing and validating a model of the scanner at the DOSEO platform so that they could evaluate a breakdown of the distribution of the dose of radiation received by the patient's body during a scan depending on the equipment's characteristics (geometry, movement of the radiation head, etc.). A Monte Carlo method is used to accurately simulate the trajectory and interaction of particles in matter.

Next, a mathematical observer model was used on a torso phantom filled with water and inserts of various shapes and sizes to assess the image quality. A detectability indicator that reflects the capacity to detect or discern a lesion was used for the assessment. The results were compared to an analysis completed by radiologists assisting with the project so that the model could be validated. The model has already been used to correlate an artificial lesion detectability rate with the dose of radiation received by the patient.

Ultimately these advances could provide radiologists with medical imaging methods that successfully limit radiation doses without compromising patient diagnoses.

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