Hybrid computational phantoms of the male and female newborn patient: NURBS-based whole-body models.Phys Med Biol. 2007 Jun 21; 52(12):3309-33.PM
Anthropomorphic computational phantoms are computer models of the human body for use in the evaluation of dose distributions resulting from either internal or external radiation sources. Currently, two classes of computational phantoms have been developed and widely utilized for organ dose assessment: (1) stylized phantoms and (2) voxel phantoms which describe the human anatomy via mathematical surface equations or 3D voxel matrices, respectively. Although stylized phantoms based on mathematical equations can be very flexible in regard to making changes in organ position and geometrical shape, they are limited in their ability to fully capture the anatomic complexities of human internal anatomy. In turn, voxel phantoms have been developed through image-based segmentation and correspondingly provide much better anatomical realism in comparison to simpler stylized phantoms. However, they themselves are limited in defining organs presented in low contrast within either magnetic resonance or computed tomography images-the two major sources in voxel phantom construction. By definition, voxel phantoms are typically constructed via segmentation of transaxial images, and thus while fine anatomic features are seen in this viewing plane, slice-to-slice discontinuities become apparent in viewing the anatomy of voxel phantoms in the sagittal or coronal planes. This study introduces the concept of a hybrid computational newborn phantom that takes full advantage of the best features of both its stylized and voxel counterparts: flexibility in phantom alterations and anatomic realism. Non-uniform rational B-spline (NURBS) surfaces, a mathematical modeling tool traditionally applied to graphical animation studies, was adopted to replace the limited mathematical surface equations of stylized phantoms. A previously developed whole-body voxel phantom of the newborn female was utilized as a realistic anatomical framework for hybrid phantom construction. The construction of a hybrid phantom is performed in three steps: polygonization of the voxel phantom, organ modeling via NURBS surfaces and phantom voxelization. Two 3D graphic tools, 3D-DOCTOR and Rhinoceros, were utilized to polygonize the newborn voxel phantom and generate NURBS surfaces, while an in-house MATLAB code was used to voxelize the resulting NURBS model into a final computational phantom ready for use in Monte Carlo radiation transport calculations. A total of 126 anatomical organ and tissue models, including 38 skeletal sites and 31 cartilage sites, were described within the hybrid phantom using either NURBS or polygon surfaces. A male hybrid newborn phantom was constructed following the development of the female phantom through the replacement of female-specific organs with male-specific organs. The outer body contour and internal anatomy of the NURBS-based phantoms were adjusted to match anthropometric and reference newborn data reported by the International Commission on Radiological Protection in their Publication 89. The voxelization process was designed to accurately convert NURBS models to a voxel phantom with minimum volumetric change. A sensitivity study was additionally performed to better understand how the meshing tolerance and voxel resolution would affect volumetric changes between the hybrid-NURBS and hybrid-voxel phantoms. The male and female hybrid-NURBS phantoms were constructed in a manner so that all internal organs approached their ICRP reference masses to within 1%, with the exception of the skin (-6.5% relative error) and brain (-15.4% relative error). Both hybrid-voxel phantoms were constructed with an isotropic voxel resolution of 0.663 mm--equivalent to the ICRP 89 reference thickness of the newborn skin (dermis and epidermis). Hybrid-NURBS phantoms used to create their voxel counterpart retain the non-uniform scalability of stylized phantoms, while maintaining the anatomic realism of segmented voxel phantoms with respect to organ shape, depth and inter-organ positioning.