Performance of computed tomography for contrast agent concentration measurements with monochromatic x-ray beams: comparison of K-edge versus temporal subtraction
We investigated the performance of monochromatic computed tomography for the quantification of contrast agent concentrations. Two subtraction methods (K-edge subtraction and temporal subtraction) were evaluated and compared theoretically and experimentally in terms of detection limit, precision and accuracy. Measurements were performed using synchrotron x-rays with Lucite phantoms (10 cm and 17.5 cm in diameter) containing iodine or gadolinium solutions ranging from 50 μgml−1 to 5mgml−1. Theexperimentswere carried out using monochromators developed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) medical beamline. The phantoms were imaged either above and below the contrast agent K-edge, or before and after the addition of the contrast agent. Both methods gave comparable performance for phantoms less than 10 cm in diameter. For large phantoms, equivalent to a human head, the temporal subtraction is more suitable for detecting elements such as iodine, keeping a reasonable x-ray dose delivered to the phantom. A good agreement was obtained between analytical calculations, simulations and measurements. The beam harmonic content was taken into account in the simulations. It explains the performance degradation with high contrast agent concentrations. The temporal subtraction technique has the advantage of energy tunability and is well suited for imaging elements, such as iodine or gadolinium, in highly absorbing samples. For technical reasons, the K-edge method is preferable when the imaged organ ismoving since the twomeasurements can be performed simultaneously, which is mandatory for obtaining a good subtraction.