Feasibility of multi-contrast imaging on dual-source photon counting detector (PCD) CT: An initial phantom study

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Purpose: Photon-counting-detector-computed tomography (PCD-CT) allows separation of multiple, simultaneously imaged contrast agents, such as iodine (I), gadolinium (Gd), and bismuth (Bi). However, PCDs suffer from several technical limitations such as charge sharing, K-edge escape, and pulse pile-up, which compromise spectral separation of multi-energy data and degrade multi-contrast imaging performance. The purpose of this work was to determine the performance of a dual-source (DS) PCD-CT relative to a single-source (SS) PCD-CT for the separation of simultaneously imaged I, Gd, and Bi contrast agents. Methods: Phantom experiments were performed using a research whole-body PCD-CT and head/abdomen-sized phantoms containing vials of different I, Gd, Bi concentrations. To emulate a DS-PCD-CT, the phantoms were scanned twice on the SS-PCD-CT using different tube potentials for each scan. A tube potential of 80 kV (energy thresholds = 25/50 keV) was used for low-energy tube, while the high-energy tube used Sn140 kV (Sn indicates tin filter) and thresholds of 25/90 keV. The same phantoms were scanned also on the SS-PCD-CT using the chess acquisition mode. In chess mode, the 4 × 4 subpixels within a macro detector pixel are split into two sets based on a chess-board pattern. With each subpixel set having two energy thresholds, chess mode allows four energy-bin data sets, which permits simultaneous multi-contrast imaging. Because of this design, only 50% area of each detector pixel is configured to receive photons of a pre-defined threshold, leading to 50% dose utilization efficiency. To compensate for this dose inefficiency, the radiation dose for this scan was doubled compared to DS-PCD-CT. A 140 kV tube potential and thresholds = 25/50/75/90 keV were used. These settings were determined based on the K-edges of Gd, and Bi, and were found to yield good differentiation of I/Gd/Bi based on phantom experiments and other literature. The energy-bin images obtained from each scan (scan pair) were used to generate I-, Gd-, Bi-specific image via material decomposition. Root-mean-square-error (RMSE) between the known and measured concentrations was calculated for each scenario. A 20-cm water cylinder phantom was scanned on both systems, which was used for evaluating the magnitude of noise, and noise power spectra (NPS) of I/Gd/Bi-specific images. Results: Phantom results showed that DS-PCD-CT reduced noise in material-specific images for both head and body phantoms compared to SS-PCD-CT. The noise level of SS-PCD was reduced from 2.55 to 0.90 mg/mL (I), 1.97 to 0.78 mg/mL (Gd), and 0.85 to 0.74 mg/mL (Bi) using DS-PCD. NPS analysis showed that the noise texture of images acquired on both systems is similar. For the body phantom, the RMSE for SS-PCD-CT was reduced relative to DS-PCD-CT from 10.52 to 2.76 mg/mL (I), 7.90 to 2.01 mg/mL (Gd), and 1.91 to 1.16 mg/mL (Bi). A similar trend was observed for the head phantom: RMSE reduced from 2.59 (SS-PCD) to 0.72 (DS-PCD) mg/mL (I), 2.02 to 0.58 mg/mL (Gd), and 0.85 to 0.57 mg/mL (Bi). Conclusion: We demonstrate the feasibility of performing simultaneous imaging of I, Gd, and Bi materials on DS-PCD-CT. Under the condition without cross scattering, DS-PCD reduced the RMSE for quantification of material concentration in relative to a SS-PCD-CT system using chess mode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4105-4115
Number of pages11
JournalMedical physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • dual-source CT
  • multi-contrast imaging
  • multi-energy CT
  • photon counting detector
  • spectral CT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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