The Radiology Research Laboratory at the Henry Ford Hospital has been involved in modeling x-ray units in order to predict image quality. A critical part of that modeling process is the accurate choice of interaction coefficients. This paper serves as a review and comparison of existing interaction models. Our objective was to obtain accurate and easily calculated interaction coefficients, at diagnostically relevant energies. We obtained data from: McMaster, Lawrence Berkeley Lab data (LBL), XCOM and FFAST Data from NIST, and the EPDL-97 database via LLNL. Our studies involve low energy photons; therefore, comparisons were limited to Coherent (Rayleigh), Incoherent (Compton) and Photoelectric effects, which were summed to determine a total interaction cross section. Without measured data, it becomes difficult to definitively choose the most accurate method. However, known limitations in the McMaster data and smoothing of photo-edge transitions can be used as a guide to establish more valid approaches. Each method was compared to one another graphically and at individual points. We found that agreement between all methods was excellent when away from photo-edges. Near photo-edges and at low energies, most methods were less accurate. Only the Chanter (FFAST) data seems to have consistently and accurately predicted the placement of edges (through M-shell), while minimizing smoothing errors. The EPDL-97 data by LLNL was the best over method in predicting coherent and incoherent cross sections.
Traditional film/screen mammograms are obtained using Molybdenum or Rhodium target x-ray tubes. The energy spectrum from these sources matches the limited latitude of film/screen systems. For digital imaging systems, the latitude is linear over a wide range of exposures and arbitrary H&D curves can be obtained with image processing. This allows the recorded contrast to noise ratio (CNR) to be optimized by considering a wide range of radiographic techniques. For this work, we modeled the radiographic process for a digital (amorphous selenium) mammography system. The optimal CNR relative to dose was determined for several target/filter combinations, for a wide range of kVp values, and for varying breast thickness. The target/filter combinations included: Mo/Mo, Mo/Rh, Rh/Rh, W/Al, W/Mo, W/Ag, and W/Sn. As breast thickness increased, the use of a tungsten target with a tin filter resulted in a 34% improvement in CNR for the same dose to the breast when compared to the use of a Molybdenum target with a Molybdenum filter. Notably, the W/Sn target/filter combination resulted in a significantly lower mA-s for the same breast dose (2/3 to 1/5 lower for a breast thickness from 4 to 8cm). In mammography applications, use of a Tungsten tube rather than the traditional Molybdenum tube should lead to significant reductions in exposure time and tube heat while maintaining similar image quality and dose.