Purpose: To utilize a virtual clinical trial (VCT) construct to investigate the effects of beam collimation and pitch on image quality (IQ) in computed tomography (CT) under different respiratory and cardiac motion rates.
Approach: A computational human model [extended cardiac-torso (XCAT) phantom] with added lung lesions was used to simulate seven different rates of cardiac and respiratory motions. A validated CT simulator (DukeSim) was used in this study. A supplemental validation was done to ensure the accuracy of DukeSim across different pitches and beam collimations. Each XCAT phantom was imaged using the CT simulator at multiple pitches (0.5 to 1.5) and beam collimations (19.2 to 57.6 mm) at a constant dose level. The images were compared against the ground truth using three task-generic IQ metrics in the lungs. Additionally, the bias and variability in radiomics (morphological) feature measurements were quantified for task-specific lung lesion quantification across the studied imaging conditions.
Results: All task-generic metrics degraded by 1.6% to 13.3% with increasing pitch. When imaged with motion, increasing pitch reduced motion artifacts. The IQ slightly degraded (1.3%) with changes in the studied beam collimations. Patient motion exhibited negative effects (within 7%) on the IQ. Among all features across all imaging conditions studies, compactness2 and elongation showed the largest (−26.5 % , 7.8%) and smallest (−0.8 % , 2.7%) relative bias and variability. The radiomics results were robust across the motion profiles studied.
Conclusions: While high pitch and large beam collimations can negatively affect the quality of CT images, they are desirable for fast imaging. Further, our results showed no major adverse effects in morphology quantification of lung lesions with the increase in pitch or beam collimation. VCTs, such as the one demonstrated in this study, represent a viable methodology for experiments in CT.