Imaging characteristics of x-ray capillary optics in digital mammography



Computed radiography (CR) has shown promise in digital mammographic screening due to its good low spatial frequency MTF and its relatively wide exposure latitude. The CR image format has not gained acceptance clinically because of reduced high spatial frequency resolution as compared to film-screen images. X-ray capillary optics, aligned between the breast and CR phosphor imaging plate, will capture primary x-ray photons almost exclusively. Due to the very small angle of acceptance, scattered photons angled more than about 1.6×10−3 radians from primary trajectory will not be accepted at the capillary optic entrance. The virtual elimination of detected scatter means almost 100% of the possible primary contrast should be visible in the image. In addition, the image can be magnified without focal spot blurring. Effective resolution of CR images can be increased by a factor equal to that magnification. Clinical implementation of future capillary optics are expected to be either in the form of a large, stationary, post-patient optic that accepts primary from the entire breast or a fan-shaped optic that is scanned across the breast. Measurements of a test capillary optic showed a reduction of scatter fraction to 0.018. Images of a lucite contrast detail phantom revealed a corresponding increase in image contrast when compared to anti-scatter grid and no grid methods. Spectral transmission measurements using a high-purity germanium detector showed good primary transmission (45%–50%) in the mammographic energy range. The MTF measurements of both stationary and scanned capillary optics showed improvement at the 5% MTF level to 8.4 mm−1 for scanned optics and 9.2 mm−1 for stationary optics representing a 68% and 84% respective increase over the CR MTF without magnification or capillary optics.