Imaging properties of digital magnification radiography.
Flat panel detectors exhibit improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and display capabilities compared to film. This improvement necessitates a new evaluation of optimal geometry for conventional projection imaging applications such as digital projection mammography as well as for advanced x-ray imaging applications including cone-beam computed tomography (CT), tomosynthesis, and mammotomography. Such an evaluation was undertaken in this study to examine the effects of x-ray source distribution, inherent detector resolution, magnification, scatter rejection, and noise characteristics including noise aliasing. A model for x-ray image acquisition was used to develop generic results applicable to flat panel detectors with similar x-ray absorption characteristics. The model assumed a Gaussian distribution for the focal spot and a rectangular distribution for a pixel. A generic model for the modulated transfer function (MTF) of indirect flat panel detectors was derived by a nonlinear fit of empirical receptor data to the Burgess model for phosphor MTFs. Noise characteristics were investigated using a generic noise power spectrum (NPS) model for indirect phosphor-based detectors. The detective quantum efficiency (DQE) was then calculated from the MTF and NPS models. The results were examined as a function of focal spot size (0.1, 0.3, and 0.6 mm) and pixel size (50, 100, 150, and 200 microm) for magnification ranges 1 to 3. Mammography, general radiography (also applicable to mammotomography), and chest radiography applications were explored using x-ray energies of 28, 74, and 120 kVp, respectively. Nodule detection was examined using the effective point source scatter model, effective DQE, and the Hotelling SNR2 efficiency. Results indicate that magnification can potentially improve the signal and noise performance of digital images. Results also show that a cross over point occurs in the spatial frequency above and below which the effects of magnification differ indicating that there are task dependent tradeoffs associated with magnification. The cross over point varies depending upon focal spot size, pixel size, x-ray energy, and source-to-image-distance (SID). For mammography, the cross over point occurs for a 0.3 mm focal spot while a 0.6 mm focal spot indicates that magnification does not improve image quality due to focal spot blurring. Thus, the benefit of magnification may be limited. For general radiography (as well as mammotomography), and chest radiography, the cross over point changes with SID. For a system with a 0.3 mm focal spot, 100 microm pixel size, a 2 m SID, and the applicable tissue thickness and scatter components, optimal magnification improved SNR2 by approximately 1.2 times for mammography and 1.5 times for general radiography (and mammotomography). These results indicate that the optimal geometry can improve image quality without changing patient dose or otherwise reduce dose without compromising image quality.
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