Grating-based Talbot–Lau x-ray interferometry is a popular method for measuring absorption, phase shift, and small-angle scattering. The standard acquisition method for this modality is phase stepping, where the Talbot pattern is reconstructed from multiple images acquired at different grating positions. We review the implicit assumptions in phase-stepping reconstruction, and find that the assumptions of perfectly known grating positions and homoscedastic noise variance are violated in some scenarios. Additionally, we investigate a recently reported estimation bias in the visibility and dark-field signal. To adapt the phase-stepping reconstruction to these findings, we propose three improvements to the reconstruction. These improvements are (a) to use prior knowledge to compute more accurate grating positions to reduce moiré artifacts, (b) to utilize noise variance information to reduce dark-field and phase noise in high-visibility acquisitions, and (c) to perform correction of an estimation bias in the interferometer visibility, leading to more quantitative dark-field imaging in acquisitions with a low signal-to-noise ratio. We demonstrate the benefit of our methods on simulated data, as well as on images acquired with a Talbot–Lau interferometer.
X-ray grating-based phase-contrast imaging might open up entirely new opportunities in medical imaging. However, transferring the interferometer technique from laboratory setups to conventional imaging systems the necessary rigidity of the system is difficult to achieve. Therefore, vibrations or distortions of the system lead to inaccuracies within the phase-stepping procedure. Given insufficient stability of the phase-step positions, up to now, artifacts in phase-contrast images occur, which lower the image quality. This is a problem with regard to the intended use of phase-contrast imaging in clinical routine as for example tiny structures of the human anatomy cannot be observed. In this contribution we evaluate an algorithm proposed by Vargas et.al.1 and applied to X-ray imaging by Pelzer et.al. that enables us to reconstruct a differential phase-contrast image without the knowledge of the specific phase-step positions. This method was tested in comparison to the standard reconstruction by Fourier analysis. The quality of phase-contrast images remains stable, even if the phase-step positions are completely unknown and not uniformly distributed. To also achieve attenuation and dark-field images the proposed algorithm has been combined with a further algorithm of Vargas et al.3 Using this algorithm, the phase-step positions can be reconstructed. With the help of the proper phase-step positions it is possible to get information about the phase, the amplitude and the offset of the measured data. We evaluated this algorithm concerning the measurement of thick objects which show a high absorbency.
Interferometric x-ray imaging becomes more and more attractive for applications such as medical imaging or non-destructive testing, because it provides the opportunity to obtain additional information on the internal structure of radiographed objects.12 Therefore, three types of images are acquired: An attenuation image like in conventional x-ray imaging, an image of the differential phase-shift generated by the object and the so called dark-field image, which contains information about the object’s granularity even on sub-pixel scale.3 However, most experiments addressing grating-based x-ray phase-contrast imaging with polychromatic sources are restricted to energies up to about 40 keV. For the application of this imaging method to thicker objects like human specimens or dense components, higher tube voltages are required. This is why we designed and constructed a laboratory setup for high energies, which is able to image larger objects.4 To evaluate the performance of the setup, the mean visibility of the field of view was measured for several tube voltages. The result shows that the mean visibility has a peak value of 23% at a tube voltage of 60 kV and is constantly greater than 16% up to a tube voltage of 120 kV. Thus, good image quality is provided even for high energies. To further substantiate the performance of the setup at high energies, a human ex-vivo foot was examined at a tube voltage of 75 kV. The interferometric x-ray images show a good image quality and a promising diagnostic power.
X-ray grating-based phase-contrast Talbot-Lau interferometry is a promising imaging technology that has the potential to raise soft tissue contrast in comparison to conventional attenuation-based imaging. Additionally, it is sensitive to attenuation, refraction and scattering of the radiation and thus provides complementary and otherwise inaccessible information due to the dark-field image, which shows the sub-pixel size granularity of the measured object.
Until recent progress the method has been mainly limited to photon energies below 40 keV. Scaling the method to photon energies that are sufficient to pass large and spacious objects represents a challenging task. This is caused by increasing demands regarding the fabrication process of the gratings and the broad spectra that come along with the use of polychromatic X-ray sources operated at high acceleration voltages.
We designed a setup that is capable to reach high visibilities in the range from 50 to 120 kV. Therefore, spacious and dense parts of the human body with high attenuation can be measured, such as a human knee.
The authors will show investigations on the resulting attenuation, differential phase-contrast and dark-field images. The images experimentally show that X-ray grating-based phase-contrast radiography is feasible with highly absorbing parts of the human body containing massive bones.
With energy-resolving photon-counting detectors in grating-based x-ray phase-contrast imaging it is possible to reduce the dose needed and optimize the imaging chain towards better performance. The advantage of photon- counting detector’s linear energy response and absence of electronic noise in attenuation based imaging is known. The access to the energy information of the photons counted provides even further potential for optimization by applying energy weighting factors. We have evaluated energy weighting for grating-based phase-contrast imaging. Measurements with the hybrid photon-counting detector Dosepix were performed. The concept of energy binning implemented in the pixel electronics allows individual storing of the energy information of the incoming photons in 16 energy bins for each pixel. With this technique the full spectral information can be obtained pixel wise from one single acquisition. On the differential phase-contrast data taken, we applied different types of energy weighting factors. The results presented in this contribution demonstrate the advantages of energy-resolved photon-counting in differential phase-contrast imaging. Using a x-ray spectrum centred significantly above the interferometers design energy leads to poor image quality. But with the proposed method and detector the quality was enhanced by 2.8 times in signal-to-noise ratio squared. As this is proportional to dose, energy- resolved photon-counting might be valuable especially for medical applications.
Grating-based X-ray phase-contrast imaging is a promising imaging modality to increase soft tissue contrast in comparison to conventional attenuation-based radiography. Complementary and otherwise inaccessible information is provided by the dark-field image, which shows the sub-pixel size granularity of the measured object. This could especially turn out to be useful in mammography, where tumourous tissue is connected with the presence of supertiny microcalcifications. In addition to the well-established image reconstruction process, an analysis method was introduced by Modregger, 1 which is based on deconvolution of the underlying scattering distribution within a single pixel revealing information about the sample. Subsequently, the different contrast modalities can be calculated with the scattering distribution. The method already proved to deliver additional information in the higher moments of the scattering distribution and possibly reaches better image quality with respect to an increased contrast-to-noise ratio. Several measurements were carried out using melamine foams as phantoms. We analysed the dependency of the deconvolution-based method with respect to the dark-field image on different parameters such as dose, number of iterations of the iterative deconvolution-algorithm and dark-field signal. A disagreement was found in the reconstructed dark-field values between the FFT method and the iterative method. Usage of the resulting characteristics might be helpful in future applications.
Grating-based X-ray phase-contrast imaging (XPCI) is a promising modality to increase soft-tissue contrast in medical imaging and especially in the case of mammography. Several groups worldwide have performed investigations on grating-based Talbot-Lau X-ray imaging of breast tissue, but in most cases focussed on the soft tissue contrast enhancement of the differential phase image.
In this contribution, we present promising measurements with a Talbot-Lau interferometer of several mastectomy breast tissue samples especially focussed on the sensitivity of the dark-field signal of microcalcifications and with a comparable dose value to conventional mammography. We can present a contrast improvement for calcifications in surrounding breast tissue for the dark-field image by a factor of 10 related to the attenuation
Grating-based X-ray phase-contrast imaging with a Talbot-Lau interferometer is a promising method which
might be able to increase soft tissue contrast and to gain additional information in comparison to attenuationbased
imaging. The method provides an attenuation image, a differential phase image and a dark-field image.
A conventional polychromatic X-ray tube can be used together with a Talbot-Lau interferometer consisting of
a source grating, a phase grating and an absorption grating. The dark-field image shows information about the
sub-pixel-size granularity of the measured object. This supplemental information is supposed to be suitable in
applications, such as mammography or nondestructive testing.
In this contribution we present results of measurements investigating the thickness-dependent behavior of
dark-field imaging. The measurements are performed with a wedge-shaped, granular object with our X-ray
phase-contrast imaging set-up and calculating the dark-field image. Measurements with this special phantom
show a resurgence of visibility contrast with increasing thickness of the object after passing a minimum. The
reason of this artifact is not completely clear up to now, but might be found in attenuation effects in the object
in combination with the polychromatic X-ray spectrum or in residual amplitudes in our fitting algorithm for low
visibilities and low intensities at large thicknesses. Understandig the thickness-dependent behavior of the X-ray
dark-field advances the understanding of the formation of the dark-field image.
Interferometric X-ray imaging becomes more and more attractive for applications such as medical imaging or non-destructive testing, where a compact setup is needed. Therefore a so-called Talbot-Lau interferometer in combination with a conventional X-ray tube is used.
Thereby, three different kinds of images can be obtained. An attenuation image like in conventional X-ray
imaging, an image of the differential phase-shifts caused by the object and the so-called dark-field image. The dark-field image shows information about the object's granularity even in sub-pixel dimensions what especially seems very promising for applications like mammography.
With respect to optimizing the output of interferometric X-ray imaging in any application, it is inevitable to
know the energy response of the interferometer as well as the energy dependence of the interactions of X- rays with matter.
In this contribution, simulations and measurements using a Medipix 2 and a Timepix detector are presented.