Technical Note: Validation of TG 233 phantom methodology to characterize noise and dose in patient CT data.

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PURPOSE: Phantoms are useful tools in diagnostic CT, but practical limitations reduce phantoms to being only a limited patient surrogate. Furthermore, a phantom with a single cross sectional area cannot be used to evaluate scanner performance in modern CT scanners that use dose reduction techniques such as Automated Tube Current Modulation (ATCM) and Iterative Reconstruction (IR) algorithms to adapt x-ray flux to patient size, reduce radiation dose, and achieve uniform image noise. A new multi-sized phantom (Mercury Phantom, MP) has been introduced, representing multiple diameters. This work aimed to ascertain if measurements from MP can predict radiation dose and image noise in clinical CT images to prospectively inform protocol design. METHODS: The adult MP design included four different physical diameters (18.5, 23.0, 30.0, 37.0 cm) representing a range of patient sizes. The study included 1457 examinations performed on two scanner models from two vendors, and two clinical protocols (abdominopelvic with and chest without contrast). Attenuating diameter, radiation dose, and noise magnitude (average pixel standard deviation in uniform image) was automatically estimated in patients and in the MP using a previously validated algorithm. An exponential fit of CTDIvol and noise as a function of size was applied to patients and MP data. Lastly, the fit equations from the phantom data were used to fit the patient data. In each patient distribution fit, the normalized root mean square error (nRMSE) values were calculated in the residuals' plots as a metric to indicate how well the phantom data can predict dose and noise in clinical operations as a function of size. RESULTS: For dose across patient size distributions, the difference between nRMSE from patient fit and MP model data prediction ranged between 0.6% and 2.0% (mean 1.2%). For noise across patient size distributions, the nRMSE difference ranged between 0.1% and 4.7% (mean 1.4%). CONCLUSION: The Mercury Phantom provided a close prediction of radiation dose and image noise in clinical patient images. By assessing dose and image quality in a phantom with multiple sizes, protocol parameters can be designed and optimized per patient size in a highly constrained setup to predict clinical scanner and ATCM system performance.


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Ria, Francesco, Justin Solomon, Joshua M Wilson and Ehsan Samei (2020). Technical Note: Validation of TG 233 phantom methodology to characterize noise and dose in patient CT data. Med Phys. 10.1002/mp.14089 Retrieved from

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Francesco Ria

Assistant Professor of Radiology

Dr. Francesco Ria is a medical physicist and he serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology. Francesco has an extensive expertise in the assessment of procedure performances in radiology. In particular, his research activities focus on the simultaneous evaluation of radiation dose and image quality in vivo in computed tomography providing a comprehensive evaluation of radiological exams. Moreover, Francesco is developing and investigating novel mathematical models that, uniquely in the radiology field, can incorporate a comprehensive and quantitative risk-to-benefit assessment of the procedures; he is continuing to apply his expertise towards the definition of new patient specific risk metrics, and in the assessment of image quality in vivo also using state-of-the-art imaging technology, such as photon counting computed tomography scanners, and machine learning reconstruction algorithms.

Dr. Ria is a member of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine task group 392 (Investigation and Quality Control of Automatic Exposure Control System in CT), of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine Public Education working group (WGATE), and of the Italian Association of Medical Physics task group Dose Monitoring in Diagnostic Imaging.


Joshua Wilson

Assistant Professor of Radiology

Ehsan Samei

Reed and Martha Rice Distinguished Professor of Radiology

Dr. Ehsan Samei, PhD, DABR, FAAPM, FSPIE, FAIMBE, FIOMP, FACR is a Persian-American medical physicist. He is the Reed and Martha Rice Distinguished Professor of Radiology, and Professor of Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Physics, and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University. He serves as the Chief Imaging Physicist for Duke University Health System, the Director of the Carl E Ravin Advanced Imaging Laboratories and the Center for Virtual Imaging Trials (CVIT), and co-PI of one the five Centers of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI), Triangle CERSI. He is certified by the American Board of Radiology, recognized as a Distinguished Investigator by the Academy of Radiology Research, and awarded Fellow by five professional organization. He founded/co-founded the Duke Medical Physics Program, the Duke Imaging Physics Residency Program, the Duke Clinical Imaging Physics Group, the Center for Virtual Imaging Trials, and the Society of Directors of Academic Medical Physics Programs (SDAMPP). He has held senior leadership positions in the AAPM, SPIE, SDAMPP, and RSNA, including election to the presidency of the SEAAPM (2010-2011), SDAMPP (2011), and AAPM (2023).

Dr. Samei’s scientific expertise include x-ray imaging, theoretical imaging models, simulation methods, and experimental techniques in medical image formation, quantification, and perception.  His research aims to bridge the gap between scientific scholarship and clinical practice, in the meaningful realization of translational research, and in clinical processes that are informed by scientific evidence. He has advanced image quality and safety metrics and radiometrics that are clinically relevant and that can be used to design, optimize, and monitor interpretive and quantitative performance of imaging techniques. These have been implemented in advanced imaging performance characterization, procedural optimization, and clinical dose and quality analytics. His most recent research interests have been virtual clinical trial across a broad spectrum of oncologic, pulmonary, cardiac, and vascular diseases, and developing methodological advances that provide smart fusions of principle-informed and AI-based, data-informed approaches to scientific inquiry.

Dr. Samei has mentored over 140 trainees (graduate and postgraduate). He has >1400 scientific publications including >360 referred journal articles, ~600 conference presentations, and 4 books. Citations to his work is reflected in an h-index of 74 and a Weighted Relative Citation Ratio of 613. His laboratory of over 20 researchers has been supported continuously over two decades by 44 extramural grants, culminating in a NIH Program Project grant in 2021 to establish the national Center for Virtual Imaging Trials (CVIT), joining a small number of prominent Biomedical Technology Research Centers across the nation. In 2023, he, along with 3 other PIs, was awarded to lead one of five national Centers of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (Triangle CERSI) by the FDA.

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