Cone-beam CT (CBCT) is widely used in diagnostic imaging and image-guided procedures, leading to an increasing need for advanced CBCT techniques, such as dual energy (DE) imaging. Previous studies have shown that DECBCT can perform quantitative material decomposition, including quantification of contrast agents, electron density, and virtual monoenergetic images. Currently, most CBCT systems perform DE imaging using a kVp switching technique. However, the disadvantages of this method are spatial and temporal misregistration as well as total scan time increase, leading to errors in the material decomposition. DE-CBCT with a dual layer flat panel detector potentially overcomes these limitations by acquiring the dual energy images simultaneously. In this work, we investigate the DE imaging performance of a prototype dual layer detector by evaluating its material decomposition capability and comparing its performance to that of the kVp switching method. Two sets of x-ray spectra were used for kVp switching: 80/120 kVp and 80/120 kVp + 1 mm Cu filtration. Our results show the dual layer detector outperforms kVp switching at 80/120 kVp with matched dose. The performance of kVp switching was better by adding 1 mm copper filtration to the high energy images (80/120 kVp + 1 mm Cu), though the dual layer detector still provided comparable performance for material decomposition tasks. Overall, both the dual layer detector and kVp switching methods provided quantitative material decomposition images in DE-CBCT, with the dual layer detector having additional potential advantages.
Dual Energy (DE) imaging has been widely used in digital radiography and fluoroscopy, as has dual energy CT for various medical applications. In this study, the imaging performance of a dynamic dual-layer a-Si flat panel detector (FPD) prototype was characterized for dual energy imaging tasks. Dual energy cone beam CT (DE CBCT) scans were acquired and used to perform material decomposition in the projection domain, followed by reconstruction to generate material specific and virtual monoenergetic (VM) images. The dual-layer FPD prototype was built on a Varex XRD 4343RF detector by adding a 200 μm thick CsI scintillator and a-Si panel of 150 μm pixel size on top as a low energy detector. A 1 mm copper filter was added as a middle layer to increase energy separation with the bottom layer as a high energy detector. The imaging performance, such as Modulation Transfer Function (MTF), Conversion Factor (CF), and Detector Quantum Efficiency (DQE) of both the top and bottom detector layers were characterized and compared with those of the standard single layer XRD4343 RF detector. Several tissue equivalent cylinders (solid water, liquid water, bone, acrylic, polyethylene, etc.) were placed on a rotating stand, and two separate 450-projection CBCT scans were performed under continuous 120 kV and 80 kV X-ray beams. After an empirical material decomposition calibration, water and bone images were generated for each projection, and their respective volumes were reconstructed using Varex’s CBCT Software Tools (CST 2.0). A VM image, which maximized the contrast-to-noise ratio of water to polyethylene, was generated based on the water and bone images. The MTF at 1.0 lp/mm from the low energy detector was 32% and 22% higher than the high energy detector and the standard detector, respectively; the DQE of both high and low energy detectors is much lower than that of the standard XRD 4343RF detector. The CNR of water to polyethylene from the VM image improved by 50% over that from the low energy image alone at 120 kV, and by 80% at 80 kV. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using a dual-layer FPD in applications such as DE CBCT for contrast enhancement and material decomposition. Further evaluations are underway.