Conventionally, the contrast of X-ray images is due to the attenuation of intensity of x-ray beams after penetrating materials, which is proportional to the imaginary part of the complex refractive index. Subtle density variations within soft tissue yields poor contrast. One method to improve the contrast of x-ray images is to utilize phase information, which could provide a signature 1000 times larger than attenuation. However, phase imaging relies critically on the spatial coherence of the x-ray beam which traditionally requires synchrotron sources, small-spot, low power laboratory sources, or precisely aligned gratings and multiple exposures. An additional source of tissue-typing information, which is simply discarded in a conventional mammogram, is coherent scatter. Coherent scatter imaging relies on diffraction within the tissue and hence produces a signature that depends on the molecular structure, but as conventionally collected requires raster-scanning of the beam and multiple exposures. None of these methods is compatible with conventional screening mammography.
We will discuss two methods to achieve phase imaging with large-spot sources practical for clinical use. The first uses polycapillary optics to focus x-rays from a large-spot source and achieve the necessary coherence for propagation-based phase imaging. The second uses structured illumination implemented with a coarse wire mesh to enhance phase signatures and relax the coherence requirement. We will present recent results from both methods, including computational algorithms for phase contrast, phase retrieval and resolution enhancement.
We will also present a slot-scanning coherent scatter system which utilizes a slot to shape the beam and shielding placed at specific angles to capture specific coherent scatter signatures in a geometry that is compatible with slot-scan mammograpy.
X-ray coherent scatter imaging has the potential to improve the detection of liquid and powder materials of concern in security screening. While x-ray attenuation is dependent on atomic number, coherent scatter is highly dependent on the characteristic angle for the target material, and thus offers an additional discrimination. Conventional coherent scatter analysis requires pixel-by-pixel scanning, and so could be prohibitively slow for security applications. A novel slot scan system has been developed to provide rapid imaging of the coherent scatter at selected angles of interest, simultaneously with the conventional absorption images. Prior experimental results showed promising capability. In this work, Monte Carlo simulations were performed to assess discrimination capability and provide system optimization. Simulation analysis performed using the measured ring profiles for an array of powders and liquids, including water, ethanol and peroxide. For example, simulations yielded a signal-to-background ratio of 1.63±0.08 for a sample consisting of two 10 mm diameter vials, one containing ethanol (signal) and one water (background). This high SBR value is due to the high angular separation of the coherent scatter between the two liquids. The results indicate that the addition of coherent scatter information to single or dual energy attenuation images improves the discrimination of materials of interest.
Conventional mammography can suffer from poor contrast between healthy and cancerous tissues due to the small difference in attenuation properties. Coherent scatter slot scan imaging is an imaging technique which provides additional information and is compatible with conventional mammography. A Monte Carlo simulation of coherent scatter slot scan imaging was performed to assess its performance and provide system optimization. Coherent scatter could be exploited using a system similar to conventional slot scan mammography system with antiscatter grids tilted at the characteristic angle of cancerous tissues. System optimization was performed across several parameters, including source voltage, tilt angle, grid distances, grid ratio, and shielding geometry. The simulated carcinomas were detectable for tumors as small as 5 mm in diameter, so coherent scatter analysis using a wide-slot setup could be promising as an enhancement for screening mammography. Employing coherent scatter information simultaneously with conventional mammography could yield a conventional high spatial resolution image with additional coherent scatter information.
A system using a wide-slot beam and simple antiscatter grids or slots has been designed to provide a localized map of tissue type that could be overlaid on the simultaneous conventional transmission image to provide an inexpensive, low dose adjunct to conventional screening mammography. Depth information is obtainable from the stereoscopic viewing angles. The system was demonstrated to produce observable contrast between adipose tissue and a phantom chosen to mimic carcinoma at an exposure comparable with screening mammography. Imaging data was collected over a range of system parameters to optimize contrast and to allow verification of simulation modeling.
Phase contrast and coherent scatter imaging have the potential to improve the detection of materials of interest in x ray screening. While attenuation is dependent on atomic number, phase is highly dependent on electron density, and thus offers an additional discriminant. A major limitation of phase imaging has been the required spatial coherence of the xray illumination, which typically requires a small (10-50 μm) source or multiple images captured with precision gratings, both of which present challenges for high throughput image acquisition. An alternative approach uses a single coarse mesh. This significantly relaxes the source spot size requirement, improving acquisition times and allows near-real-time phase extraction using Fourier processing of the acquired images. Diffraction signatures provide a third approach which yields another set of information to identify materials. Specific angles characteristic of target materials are selected through broad slot apertures for rapid throughput. Depth information can be extracted from stereoscopic imaging using multiple slots. A system capable of simultaneous phase, coherent scatter, and absorption imaging was constructed. Discrimination of materials on the basis of both phase and coherent scatter signatures is demonstrated.
X-ray coherent scatter is dependent upon the molecular structure of the scattering material and hence allows differentiation between tissue types with potentially much higher contrast than conventional absorption-based radiography. Coherent-scatter computed tomography has been used to produce images based on the x-ray scattering properties of the tissue. However, the geometry for CT imaging requires a thin fan beam and multiple projections and is incommensurate with screening mammography. In this work we demonstrate progress in a developing a system using a wide slot beam and simple anti-scatter grid which is adequate to differentiate between scatter peaks to remove the fat background from the coherent scatter image. Adequate intensity in the coherent scatter image can be achieved at the dose commonly used for screening mammography to detect carcinoma surrogates as small as 2 mm in diameter. This technique would provide an inexpensive, low dose, simultaneous adjunct to conventional screening mammography to provide a localized map of tissue type that could be overlaid on the conventional transmission mammogram. Comparisons between phantom measurements and Monte Carlo simulations show good agreement, which allowed for detailed examination of the visibility of carcinoma under realistic conditions.
Conventional mammography has poor contrast between healthy tissue and carcinoma due to small differences in
attenuation. Since interference of coherently scattered radiation depends on the intermolecular spacing, it can provide
new information with higher contrast. A Monte Carlo simulation was developed for coherent scatter imaging. The
modeled design exploits a conventional scan slot mammography system with an additional anti-scatter grid tilted at the
characteristic angle of carcinoma. Preliminary results are promising and agree with experimental measurements on
phantom systems. The effect of changing grid tilt angle and sample detector distance were studied in order to begin
The system using a wide slot beam and simple anti-scatter grid has been designed to provide a localized map of tissue
type that could be overlaid on the simultaneous conventional transmission image to provide an inexpensive, low dose
adjunct to conventional screening mammography.
The purpose of this work is to explore whether a screening mammography system can be designed to exploit coherent
scatter to provide some tissue type information.
A system using a wide slot beam and simple anti-scatter grid has been designed to
provide a localized map of tissue type that could be overlaid on the simultaneous
conventional transmission image to provide an inexpensive, low dose adjunct to
conventional screening mammography. The system was demonstrated to differentiate
between scatter peak angles corresponding to adipose tissue and carcinoma. Adequate
intensity in the coherent scatter image can be
achieved at a dose commonly used for screening
mammography. Depth information is obtainable
from the stereoscopic viewing angles. Phantom
imaging measurements and Monte Carlo
simulations show good agreement.