Propagation-based phase-contrast CT (PB-CT) is a novel imaging technique that visualises variations in both X-ray attenuation and refraction. This study aimed to compare the clinical image quality of breast PB-CT using synchrotron radiation with conventional absorption-based CT (AB-CT), at the same radiation dose. Seven breast mastectomy specimens were scanned and evaluated by a group of 14 radiologists and medical imaging experts who assessed the images based on seven radiological image quality criteria. Visual grading characteristics (VGC) were used to analyse the results and the area under the VGC curve was obtained to measure the differences between the two techniques. For six image quality criteria (overall quality, perceptible contrast, lesion sharpness, normal tissue interfaces, calcification visibility and image noise), PB-CT images were superior to AB-CT images of the same dose (AUCVGC: 0.704 to 0.914, P≤.05). For the seventh criteria (artefacts), PB-CT images were also rated better than AB-CT images (AUCVGC: 0.647) but the difference was not significant. The results of this study provide a solid basis for future experimental and clinical protocols of breast PB-CT.
In recent years, the X-ray refraction contrast was widely developed and applied in different fields of science which deal with the nondestructive observation methods. As it follows from the name, the refraction contrast is the distribution of the X-ray intensity dependent on the deflection angle of the X-ray beam. This property of the contrast provides certain advantages over other contrasts such as absorption and phase-shift. The refraction contrast can show tiny details of the inner structure which are invisible in other types of the X-ray imaging techniques. Another advantage of the X-ray refraction contrast is the sensitivity to the low Z materials. This property of the refraction contrast may be of great importance in the medical applications of the X-ray. The advantages provided by the refraction contrast allow one to expect the same advantages of the computed tomography (CT) from the refraction contrast. Therefore this report is dedicated to the realization of the refraction-based CT. It describes the theoretical background of the problem, experimental realization of the method and actual results of the reconstruction of the breast cancer sample. The experimental data were acquired using X-ray synchrotron source at Photon Factory (KEK, Japan). The energy of used in the experiment was 11.7keV. The spatial resolution of the reconstructed images is about 20 microns.
We have developed X-ray refraction based computed tomography (CT) which is able to visualize soft tissue in
between hard tissue. The experimental system consists of Si(220) diffraction double-crystals called the DEI (diffraction-enhanced
imaging) method, object locating in between them and a CCD camera to acquire data of 900 x-ray images.
The x-ray energy used was 17.5 keV. The algorithm used to reconstruct CT images has been invented by A.
Maksimenko et al.. We successfully visualized calcification and distribution of breast cancer nest which are the inner
structure. It has much higher contrast which in comparison with the conventional absorption based CT system.
X-ray dark-field imaging (DFI) due to refraction is under development with intension of its clinical application. In this system we have adopted an asymmetric-cut monochro-collimator (M) and an angular analyzer (A) of Si 440 diffraction at 35 keV of X-rays. By choosing an appropriate thickness T of A that satisfies the condition T = ΛN where Λ is the extinction distance and N integer the transmissivity in the region of |W| (angular parameter) < 1 should be theoretically almost zero and |W| > 1 should be approximately 70-80%. This has been experimentally proven. Under this condition the X-rays whose propagation direction may not change such as those receiving only absorption will not go into the forward diffraction direction after A but go into the diffraction direction, while the X-rays refracted by object may go into the forward diffraction direction after A. We have settled two targets of clinical views: soft tissues at joints and early check of breast cancer. A first clear image of articular cartilage of small joint was successfully obtained using a proximal interphalangeal joint that was amputated from a cadaver. Since larger view field is needed for clinical use the size of approximately 90 mm in square has been successfully achieved. Using this beam articular cartilage of knee and shoulder joints from the same cadaver have been successfully visualized. Further visibility test by the DFI is under way for a phantom of breast cancer, paraffin fixed sliced breast samples containing micro-calcification, tumor and excised breast tissue.