Purpose: CMOS x-ray detectors offer small pixel sizes and low electronic noise that may support the development of novel high-resolution imaging applications of cone-beam CT (CBCT). We investigate the effects of CsI scintillator thickness on the performance of CMOS detectors in high resolution imaging tasks, in particular in quantitative imaging of bone microstructure in extremity CBCT. Methods: A scintillator thickness-dependent cascaded systems model of CMOS x-ray detectors was developed. Detectability in low-, high- and ultra-high resolution imaging tasks (Gaussian with FWHM of ~250 μm, ~80 𝜇m and ~40 μm, respectively) was studied as a function of scintillator thickness using the theoretical model. Experimental studies were performed on a CBCT test bench equipped with DALSA Xineos3030 CMOS detectors (99 μm pixels) with CsI scintillator thicknesses of 400 μm and 700 𝜇m, and a 0.3 FS compact rotating anode x-ray source. The evaluation involved a radiographic resolution gauge (0.6-5.0 lp/mm), a 127 μm tungsten wire for assessment of 3D resolution, a contrast phantom with tissue-mimicking inserts, and an excised fragment of human tibia for visual assessment of fine trabecular detail. Results: Experimental studies show ~35% improvement in the frequency of 50% MTF modulation when using the 400 μm scintillator compared to the standard nominal CsI thickness of 700 μm. Even though the high-frequency DQE of the two detectors is comparable, theoretical studies show a 14% to 28% increase in detectability index (d’2) of high- and ultra- high resolution tasks, respectively, for the detector with 400 μm CsI compared to 700 μm CsI. Experiments confirm the theoretical findings, showing improvements with the adoption of 400 μm panel in the visibility of the radiographic pattern (2x improvement in peak-to-through distance at 4.6 lp/mm) and a 12.5% decrease in the FWHM of the tungsten wire. Reconstructions of the tibial plateau reveal enhanced visibility of trabecular structures with the CMOS detector with 400 μm scinitllator. Conclusion: Applications on CMOS detectors in high resolution CBCT imaging of trabecular bone will benefit from using a thinner scintillator than the current standard in general radiography. The results support the translation of the CMOS sensor with 400 μm scinitllator.
Q. Cao, M. Brehler, A. Sisniega, J. W. Stayman, J. Yorkston, J. H. Siewerdsen, and W. Zbijewski, "High-resolution extremity cone-beam CT with a CMOS detector: task-based optimization of scintillator thickness," Proc. SPIE 10132, Medical Imaging 2017: Physics of Medical Imaging, 1013210 (Presented at SPIE Medical Imaging: February 15, 2017; Published: 9 March 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2255695.
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