19 March 2008 GEANT4 simulation of NSECT for detection of iron overload in the liver
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Neutron stimulated emission computed tomography (NSECT) is being proposed as a non-invasive technique to diagnose iron overload in humans. It uses inelastic scatter interactions between incident neutrons and iron nuclei to stimulate gamma-ray emission from iron. Tomographic detection of the emitted gamma-rays yields information about the concentration and spatial distribution of iron in the liver. Early proof-of-concept experiments have shown that NSECT has the potential to quantify clinical quantities of liver iron overload through single-position spectroscopy. However, a tomography application for patient diagnosis has never been tested. This work uses a Monte-Carlo simulation of a tomographic NSECT system to investigate the feasibility of imaging the spatial distribution of liver iron through tomography. A simulation of an NSECT system has been designed in GEANT4 and used to tomographically scan a simulated human liver phantom with high-concentration iron lesions. Images are reconstructed with the MLEM algorithm and analyzed for pixel values within iron regions to determine the statistical significance of detection. Analysis results indicate that a wet iron concentration of 3 mg/g can be detected in surrounding liver tissue with p-value ≤ 0.0001 for neutron exposure corresponding to a radiation dose of 0.72 mSv. The research performed here demonstrates that NSECT has the ability to image clinically relevant distributions of iron through tomographic scanning.
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Anuj J. Kapadia, Anuj J. Kapadia, Brian P. Harrawood, Brian P. Harrawood, Georgia D. Tourassi, Georgia D. Tourassi, } "GEANT4 simulation of NSECT for detection of iron overload in the liver", Proc. SPIE 6913, Medical Imaging 2008: Physics of Medical Imaging, 691309 (19 March 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.773245; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.773245

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