Characterization of imaging performance in differential phase contrast CT compared with the conventional CT: Spectrum of noise equivalent quanta NEQ(k)

Authors

  • Tang Xiangyang,

    1. Imaging and Medical Physics, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, 1701 Uppergate Drive, C-5018, Atlanta, Georgia 30322
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    • Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. Electronic mail: xiangyang.tang@emory.edu; Telephone: (404) 778-1732; Fax: (404) 712-5813.

  • Yang Yi,

    1. Imaging and Medical Physics, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, 1701 Uppergate Drive, C-5018, Atlanta, Georgia 30322
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  • Tang Shaojie

    1. Imaging and Medical Physics, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, 1701 Uppergate Drive, C-5018, Atlanta, Georgia 30322
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Abstract

Purpose:

Differential phase contrast CT (DPC-CT) is emerging as a new technology to improve the contrast sensitivity of conventional attenuation-based CT. The noise equivalent quanta as a function over spatial frequency, i.e., the spectrum of noise equivalent quanta NEQ(k), is a decisive indicator of the signal and noise transfer properties of an imaging system. In this work, we derive the functional form of NEQ(k) in DPC-CT. Via system modeling, analysis, and computer simulation, we evaluate and verify the derived NEQ(k) and compare it with that of the conventional attenuation-based CT.

Methods:

The DPC-CT is implemented with x-ray tube and gratings. The x-ray propagation and data acquisition are modeled and simulated through Fresnel and Fourier analysis. A monochromatic x-ray source (30 keV) is assumed to exclude any system imperfection and interference caused by scatter and beam hardening, while a 360° full scan is carried out in data acquisition to avoid any weighting scheme that may disrupt noise randomness. Adequate upsampling is implemented to simulate the x-ray beam's propagation through the gratingsG1 and G2 with periods 8 and 4 μm, respectively, while the intergrating distance is 193.6 mm (1/16 of the Talbot distance). The dimensions of the detector cell for data acquisition are 32 × 32, 64 × 64, 96 × 96, and 128 × 128 μm2, respectively, corresponding to a 40.96 × 40.96 mm2 field of view in data acquisition. An air phantom is employed to obtain the noise power spectrum NPS(k), spectrum of noise equivalent quanta NEQ(k), and detective quantum efficiency DQE(k). A cylindrical water phantom at 5.1 mm diameter and complex refraction coefficient n = 1 − δ + = 1 −2.5604 × 10−7 + i1.2353 × 10−10 is placed in air to measure the edge transfer function, line spread function and then modulation transfer function MTF(k), of both DPC-CT and the conventional attenuation-based CT. The x-ray flux is set at 5 × 106 photon/cm2 per projection and observes the Poisson distribution, which is consistent with that of a micro-CT for preclinical applications. Approximately 360 regions, each at 128 × 128 matrix, are used to calculate the NPS(k) via 2D Fourier transform, in which adequate zero padding is carried out to avoid aliasing in noise.

Results:

The preliminary data show that the DPC-CT possesses a signal transfer property [MTF(k)] comparable to that of the conventional attenuation-based CT. Meanwhile, though there exists a radical difference in their noise power spectrum NPS(k) (trait 1/|k| in DPC-CT but |k| in the conventional attenuation-based CT) the NEQ(k) and DQE(k) of DPC-CT and the conventional attenuation-based CT are in principle identical.

Conclusions:

Under the framework of ideal observer study, the joint signal and noise transfer property NEQ(k) and detective quantum efficiency DQE(k) of DPC-CT are essentially the same as those of the conventional attenuation-based CT. The findings reported in this paper may provide insightful guidelines on the research, development, and performance optimization of DPC-CT for extensive preclinical and clinical applications in the future.

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