Optimising the benefits of spectral x-ray imaging in material decomposition
Thesis DisciplineMedical Physics
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The extra energy information provided by spectral x-ray imaging using novel photon counting x-ray detectors may allow for improved decomposition of materials compared to conventional and dual-energy imaging. The information content of spectral x-ray images, however, depends on how the photons are grouped together. This thesis deals with the theoretical aspect of optimising material discrimination in spectral x-ray imaging. A novel theoretical model was developed to map the confidence region of material thicknesses to determine the uncertainties in thickness quantification. Given the thickness uncertainties, photon counts per pixel can be optimised for material quantification in the most dose efficient manner. Minimisation of the uncertainties enables the optimisation of energy bins for material discrimination. Using Monte Carlo simulations based on the BEAMnrc package, material decomposition of up to 3 materials was performed on projection images, which led to the validation of the theoretical model. With the inclusion of scattered radiation, the theoretical optima of bin border energies were accurate to within 2 keV. For the simulated photon counts, excellent agreement was achieved between the theoretical and the BEAMnrc models regarding the signal-to-noise ratio in a decomposed image, particularly for the decomposition of two materials. Finally, this thesis examined the implementation of the Medipix detector. The equalisation of pixel sensitivity variations and the processing of photon counting projection images were studied. Measurements using the Medipix detector demonstrated promising results in the charge summing and the spectroscopic modes of acquisition, even though the spectroscopic performance of the detector was relatively limited due to electronic issues known to degrade the equalisation process. To conclude, the theoretical model is sufficient in providing guidelines for scanning parameters in spectral x-ray imaging and may be applied on spectral projection measurements using e.g. the redesigned MedipixRX detector with improved spectroscopic performance, when it becomes available.