Spectral Computed Tomography with a Photon-Counting Silicon-Strip Detector

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Computed tomography (CT) is a widely used medical imaging modality. By rotating an x-ray tube and an x-ray detector around the patient, a CT scanner is able to measure the x-ray transmission from all directions and form an image of the patient’s interior. CT scanners in clinical use today all use energy-integrating detectors, which measure the total incident energy for each measurement interval. A photon-counting detector, on the other hand, counts the number of incoming photons and can in addition measure the energy of each photon by comparing it to a number of energy thresholds. Using photon- counting detectors in computed tomography could lead to improved signal-to-noise ratio, higher spatial resolution and improved spectral imaging which allows better visualization of contrast agents and more reliable quantitative measurements. In this Thesis, the feasibility of using a photon-counting silicon-strip detector for CT is investigated. In the first part of the Thesis, the necessary performance requirements on such a detector is investigated in two different areas: the detector element homogeneity and the capability of handling high photon fluence rates. A metric of inhomogeneity is proposed and used in a simulation study to evaluate different inhomogeneity compensation methods. Also, the photon fluence rate incident on the detector in a scanner in clinical use today is investigated for different patient sizes through dose rate measurements together with simulations of transmission through patient im- ages. In the second part, a prototype detector module is used to demonstrate new applications enabled by the energy resolution of the detector. The ability to generate material-specific images of contrast agents with iodine and gadolinium is demonstrated. Furthermore, it is shown theoretically and ex- perimentally that interfaces in the image can be visualized by imaging the so-called nonlinear partial volume effect. The results suggest that the studied silicon-strip detector is a promising candidate for photon-counting CT.