Quantification of the effect of system and object parameters on edge enhancement in phase-contrast radiography.

Donnelly EF, Price RR, Pickens DR
Med Phys. 2003 30 (11): 2888-96

PMID: 14655935 · DOI:10.1118/1.1617430

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of system parameters (focal spot size, tube voltage, geometry, detector resolution, and image noise) and object characteristics (edge gradient/ shape, composition, thickness, and overlying attenuating material) upon the edge enhancement effect in phase-contrast radiography. Each variable of interest was adjusted and images of a 3 mm lucite phantom were obtained with the other variables remaining constant. A microfocus x-ray source coupled to a CCD camera with an intensifying screen was used to acquire the digital images. Two parameters of image analysis were used to quantify the effects. The edge enhancement index (EEI) was used to measure the absolute degree of edge enhancement, while the edge enhancement to noise ratio (EE/N) was used to measure the conspicuity of the edge enhancement relative to image noise. Little effect on EEI was seen from tube voltage, object thickness, overlying attenuating material, while focal spot size and system geometry demonstrated measurable effects upon the degree of edge enhancement. It was also shown that while the edge enhancement effect over straight edges is highly dependent upon how the edge aligns with the x-ray beam, rounded edges, which better model biological objects, do not suffer from this dependence and the EEI reaches its maximal level at any alignment. Decreasing detector resolution diminished the EEI slightly, but even with pixel sizes of 0.360 x 0.360 mm edge enhancement effects were readily visible. The effect of image noise on EE/N was evaluated using different exposure times showing an expected improvement with longer exposure time with EE/N approaching a plateau at 5 min. Many of the parameters that will go into the design of a future PC-R imaging system have been quantified in terms of their effect on the degree of edge enhancement in the acquired image. These results, taken together, indicate that either a specimen or even clinical breast imaging system could be created with currently available technology. The major limitation to a clinical system would be the low x-ray flux from the microfocal x-ray source.

MeSH Terms (13)

Pattern Recognition, Automated Phantoms, Imaging Quality Control Radiographic Image Enhancement Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted Radiography Radiometry Refractometry Reproducibility of Results Scattering, Radiation Sensitivity and Specificity Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted Tomography, Optical Coherence

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