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Monte Carlo modelling of X-ray absorptiometry and its application to body composition studies

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Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
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Abstract

This thesis applies Monte Carlo techniques to the study of X-ray absorptiometric methods of bone mineral measurement. These studies seek to obtain information that can be used in efforts to improve the accuracy of the bone mineral measurements. A Monte Carlo computer code for X-ray photon transport at diagnostic energies has been developed from first principles. This development was undertaken as there was no readily available code which included electron binding energy corrections for incoherent scattering and one of the objectives of the project was to study the effects of inclusion of these corrections in Monte Carlo models. The code includes the main Monte Carlo program plus utilities for dealing with input data. A number of geometrical subroutines which can be used to construct complex geometries have also been written. The accuracy of the Monte Carlo code has been evaluated against the predictions of theory and the results of experiments. The results show a high correlation with theoretical predictions. In comparisons of model results with those of direct experimental measurements, agreement to within the model and experimental variances is obtained. The code is an accurate and valid modelling tool. A study of the significance of inclusion of electron binding energy corrections for incoherent scatter in the Monte Carlo code has been made. The results show this significance to be very dependent upon the type of application. The most significant effect is a reduction of low angle scatter flux for high atomic number scatterers. To effectively apply the Monte Carlo code to the study of bone mineral density measurement by photon absorptiometry the results must be considered in the context of a theoretical framework for the extraction of energy dependent information from planar X-ray beams. Such a theoretical framework is developed and the two-dimensional nature of tissue decomposition based on attenuation measurements alone is explained. This theoretical framework forms the basis for analytical models of bone mineral measurement by dual energy X-ray photon absorptiometry techniques. Monte Carlo models of dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) have been established. These models have been used to study the contribution of scattered radiation to the measurements. It has been demonstrated that the measurement geometry has a significant effect upon the scatter contribution to the detected signal. For the geometry of the models studied in this work the scatter has no significant effect upon the results of the measurements. The model has also been used to study a proposed technique which involves dual energy X-ray transmission measurements plus a linear measurement of the distance along the ray path. This is designated as the DPA( +) technique. The addition of the linear measurement enables the tissue decomposition to be extended to three components. Bone mineral, fat and lean soft tissue are the components considered here. The results of the model demonstrate that the measurement of bone mineral using this technique is stable over a wide range of soft tissue compositions and hence would indicate the potential to overcome a major problem of the two component DEXA technique. However, the results also show that the accuracy of the DPA( +) technique is highly dependent upon the composition of the non-mineral components of bone and has poorer precision (approximately twice the coefficient of variation) than the standard DEXA measurements. These factors may limit the usefulness of the technique. These studies illustrate the value of Monte Carlo computer modelling of quantitative X-ray measurement techniques. The Monte Carlo models of bone densitometry measurement have:- 1. demonstrated the significant effects of the measurement geometry upon the contribution of scattered radiation to the measurements, 2. demonstrated that the statistical precision of the proposed DPA( +) three tissue component technique is poorer than that of the standard DEXA two tissue component technique, 3. demonstrated that the proposed DPA(+) technique has difficulty providing accurate simultaneous measurement of body composition in terms of a three component model of fat, lean soft tissue and bone mineral,4. and provided a knowledge base for input to decisions about development (or otherwise) of a physical prototype DPA( +) imaging system. The Monte Carlo computer code, data, utilities and associated models represent a set of significant, accurate and valid modelling tools for quantitative studies of physical problems in the fields of diagnostic radiology and radiography.

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