Intercomparison of methods for image quality characterization. I. Modulation transfer function.
The modulation transfer function (MTF) and the noise power spectrum (NPS) are widely recognized as the most relevant metrics of resolution and noise performance in radiographic imaging. These quantities have commonly been measured using various techniques, the specifics of which can have a bearing on the accuracy of the results. As a part of a study aimed at comparing the relative performance of different techniques, in this paper we report on a comparison of two established MTF measurement techniques: one using a slit test device [Dobbins et al., Med. Phys. 22, 1581-1593 (1995)] and another using a translucent edge test device [Samei et al., Med. Phys. 25, 102-113 (1998)], with one another and with a third technique using an opaque edge test device recommended by a new international standard (IEC 62220-1, 2003). The study further aimed to substantiate the influence of various acquisition and processing parameters on the estimated MTF. The slit test device was made of 2 mm thick Pb slabs with a 12.5 microm opening. The translucent edge test device was made of a laminated and polished Pt(0.9)Ir(0.1). alloy foil of 0.1 mm thickness. The opaque edge test device was made of a 2 mm thick W slab. All test devices were imaged on a representative indirect flat-panel digital radiographic system using three published beam qualities: 70 kV with 0.5 mm Cu filtration, 70 kV with 19 mm Al filtration, and 74 kV with 21 mm Al filtration (IEC-RQA5). The latter technique was also evaluated in conjunction with two external beam-limiting apertures (per IEC 62220-1), and with the tube collimator limiting the beam to the same area achieved with the apertures. The presampled MTFs were deduced from the acquired images by Fourier analysis techniques, and the results analyzed for relative values and the influence of impacting parameters. The findings indicated that the measurement technique has a notable impact on the resulting MTF estimate, with estimates from the overall IEC method 4.0% +/- 0.2% lower than that of Dobbins et al. and 0.7% +/- 0.4% higher than that of Samei et al. averaged over the zero to cutoff frequency range. Over the same frequency range, keeping beam quality and limitation constant, the average MTF estimate obtained with the edge techniques differed by up to 5.2% +/- 0.2% from that of the slit, with the opaque edge providing lower MTF estimates at lower frequencies than those obtained with the translucent edge or slit. The beam quality impacted the average estimated MTF by as much as 3.7% +/- 0.9% while the use of beam limiting devices alone increased the average estimated MTF by as much as 7.0% +/- 0.9%. While the slit method is inherently very sensitive to misalignment, both edge techniques were found to tolerate misalignments by as much as 6 cm. The results suggest the use of the opaque edge test device and the tube internal collimator for beam limitation in order to achieve an MTF result most reflective of the overall performance of the imaging system and least susceptible to misalignment and scattered radiation. Careful attention to influencing factors is warranted to achieve accurate results.
Samei, E; Ranger, NT; Dobbins, JT; Chen, Y
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