Images from MARS spectral CT scanners show that there is much diagnostic value from using small pixels and good energy data. MARS scanners use energy-resolving photon-counting CZT Medipix3RX detectors that measure the energy of photons on a five-point scale and with a spatial resolution of 110 microns. The energy information gives good material discrimination and quantification. The 3D reconstruction gives a voxel size of 70 microns. We present images of pre-clinical specimens, including excised atheroma, bone and joint samples, and nanoparticle contrast agents along with images from living humans. Images of excised human plaque tissue show the location and extent of lipid and calcium deposition within the artery wall. The presence of intraplaque haemorrhage, where the blood leaks into the artery wall following a rupture, has also been visualised through the detection of iron. Several clinically important bone and joint problems have been investigated including: site-specific bone mineral density, bone-metal interfaces (spectral CT reduces metal artefacts), cartilage health using ionic contrast media, gout and pseudogout crystals, and microfracture assessment using nanoparticles. Metallic nanoparticles have been investigated as a cellular marker visible in MARS images. Cell lines of different cancer types (Raji and SK-BR3) were incubated with monoclonal antibody-functionalised AuNPs (Herceptin and Rituximab). We identified and quantified the labelled AuNPs demonstrating that Herceptin-functionalised AuNPs bound to SK-BR3 breast cancer cells but not to the Raji lymphoma cells. In vivo human images show the bone microstructure. Fat, water, and calcium concentrations are quantifiable.
The aim is to perform qualitative and quantitative assessment of metal induced artefacts of small titanium biomaterials using photon counting spectral CT. The energy binning feature of some photon counting detectors enables the measured spectrum to be segmented into low, mid and high energy bins in a single exposure. In this study, solid and porous titanium implants submerged in different concentrations of calcium solution were scanned using the small animal MARS photon counting spectral scanner equipped with a polyenergetic X-ray source operated at 118 kVp. Five narrow energy bins (7-45 keV, 45-55 keV, 55-65 keV, 65-75 keV and 75-118 keV) in charge summing mode were utilised. Images were evaluated in the energy domain (spectroscopic images) as well as material domain (material segmentation and quantification). Results show that calcium solution outside titanium implants can be accurately quantified. However, there was an overestimation of calcium within the pores of the scaffold. This information is critical as it can severely limit the assessment of bone ingrowth within metal structures. The energy binning feature of the spectral scanner was exploited and a correction factor, based on calcium concentrations adjacent to and within metal structures, was used to minimise the variation. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of bone density and morphology with and without titanium screw shows that photon counting spectral CT can assess bone-metal interface with less pronounced artefacts. Quantification of bone growth in and around the implants would help in orthopaedic applications to determine the effectiveness of implant treatment and assessment of fracture healing.