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New CRP: Advanced Tools for Quality and Dosimetry of Digital Imaging in Radiology (E24025)

New Coordinated Research Project
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Image 1. Set up of the phantom on the radiography X-ray equipment.

The IAEA is launching a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on “Advanced Tools for Quality and Dosimetry of Digital Imaging in Radiology”, with a time frame of five years from 2021-2025.

The utilization of X-ray imaging is increasing rapidly worldwide.  It has been demonstrated that effective quality assurance (QA) programmes have a positive impact on improving image quality and reducing patient exposure. QA is a framework to ensure that X-ray facilities produce consistent, high-quality images with minimum exposure to patients and personnel. Quality Control (QC) is an essential part of QA that involves periodic and annual testing of all components of an imaging system.

The key professional coordinating these activities in the diagnostic radiology department is the Clinically Qualified Medical Physicist (CQMP). Unfortunately, the number of CQMPs competent in the field of radiology is low compared to the needs at a global level and even if they exist in the radiology department, they do not have all the tools available to work efficiently and to follow the latest developments in the field.

To respond to the need for regular QC testing, the IAEA developed a methodology using 2 phantoms (one for radiography and one for mammography) and a software tool. The phantoms enable QC tests on a daily or weekly basis to be performed using a state-of-the-art detectability index (d') and accompanying software allows for complete and automated evaluation of the main performance characteristics of the imaging chain such as homogeneity, spatial resolution, etc. The phantoms can be built using simple low-cost material at the local level. They can be used together with the software either on a local basis by the CQMP or by groups of CQMPs responsible for a network of hospitals including smaller radiological facilities in a remote setting.

Image 2. Set up of the phantom on the mammography system.

CRP Overall Objective

The primary goal of this CRP is to investigate whether the IAEA methodology can be implemented in radiology centers worldwide across diverse radiological settings, to improve clinical practice.

Specific Research Objectives  

The CRP will focus on the implementation of advanced tools for quality and dosimetry in digital imaging, and the specific objectives are to:

  1. Apply the IAEA methodology in clinical practice for radiology centers worldwide across diverse radiological settings;
  2. Investigate the correlation of the image quality (IQ) metrics with equipment performance, including the establishment of typical reference values and acceptable ranges of variation;
  3. Create an international network of CQMPs that can interact and support each other in clinical practice through implementation of the remote automated QC program.

The CRP will enhance quality control in radiography and mammography through the implementation of a remote and automated quality control programme. The CRP will contribute to the quality and effectiveness of health services in participating Member States through the development and implementation of QC methodology. It will also enhance the capabilities of participating Member States to become involved with state-of-the-art scientific research and to establish an international scientific network.

Outputs

  1. Data generated during implementation of the remote and automated QC program that will provide evidence of its applicability under different clinical scenarios.
  2. A compilation of lessons learned in the worldwide implementation of remote and automated QC considering the improvements strategies worked out by participants during the CRP.
  3. Confirmed relevance of the IQ metrics.
  4. Established preliminary IQ metrics reference values in radiography and mammography.
  5. Report of case studies having incorporated remote and automated QC in daily practice.
  6. Comparison of IQ metrics between institutions, possibly leading to image optimization processes.
  7. A web-based network for CQMPs to interact and support each other.

How to join this CRP

The CRP is open for all Member States. The minimal requirements for institutions to join the CRP include having a CQMP in radiology and access to operational radiography and mammography units.  Research institutes with recognized expertise will be invited to share their experience with the contract holders and contribute to the development and validation of the methodology.

Please submit your Proposal for a Research Contract or Agreement by email, no later than 30 March 2021, to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the following link.  Note that the same form can be used for the research contract and technical contract.

For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should contact the Project Officer by using the email feature at the following link.

Last update: 11 Jan 2021

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