High-rate x-ray spectroscopy in mammography with a CdTe detector: A digital pulse processing approach


  • 0094-2405/2010/37(12)/6147/10/$30.00



Direct measurement of mammographic x-ray spectra under clinical conditions is a difficult task due to the high fluence rate of the x-ray beams as well as the limits in the development of high resolution detection systems in a high counting rate environment. In this work we present a detection system, based on a CdTe detector and an innovative digital pulse processing (DPP) system, for high-rate x-ray spectroscopy in mammography.


The DPP system performs a digital pile-up inspection and a digital pulse height analysis of the detector signals, digitized through a 14-bit, 100 MHz digitizer, for x-ray spectroscopy even at high photon counting rates. We investigated on the response of the digital detection system both at low (150 cps) and at high photon counting rates (up to 500 kcps) by using monoenergetic x-ray sources and a nonclinical molybdenum anode x-ray tube. Clinical molybdenum x-ray spectrum measurements were also performed by using a pinhole collimator and a custom alignment device.


The detection system shows excellent performance up to 512 kcps with an energy resolution of 4.08% FWHM at 22.1 keV. Despite the high photon counting rate (up to 453 kcps), the molybdenum x-ray spectra, measured under clinical conditions, are characterized by a low number of pile-up events. The agreement between the attenuation curves and the half value layer values, obtained from the measured spectra, simulated spectra, and from the exposure values directly measured with an ionization chamber, also shows the accuracy of the measurements.


These results make the proposed detection system a very attractive tool for both laboratory research and advanced quality controls in mammography.