Johns Hopkins University
Larry E. Antonuk, Kyung-Wook Jee, Youcef El-Mohri, Manat Maolinbay, Sani Nassif, Xin Rong, Qihua Zhao, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, Robert A. Street, Khooshbu S. Shah
In: Medical Physics, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 289-306, 2000, ISSN: 0094-2405.
A theoretical investigation of factors limiting the detective quantum efficiency (DQE) of active matrix flat-panel imagers (AMFPIs), and of methods to overcome these limitations, is reported. At the higher exposure levels associated with radiography, the present generation of AMFPIs is capable of exhibiting DQE performance equivalent, or superior, to that of existing film-screen and computed radiography systems. However, at exposure levels commonly encountered in fluoroscopy, AMFPIs exhibit significantly reduced DQE and this problem is accentuated at higher spatial frequencies. The problem applies both to AMFPIs that rely on indirect detection as well as direct detection of the incident radiation. This reduced performance derives from the relatively large magnitude of the square of the total additive noise compared to the system gain for existing AMFPIs. In order to circumvent these restrictions, a variety of strategies to decrease additive noise and enhance system gain are proposed. Additive noise could be reduced through improved preamplifier, pixel and array design, including the incorporation of compensation lines to sample external line noise. System gain could be enhanced through the use of continuous photodiodes, pixel amplifiers, or higher gain x-ray converters such as lead iodide. The feasibility of these and other strategies is discussed and potential improvements to DQE performance are quantified through a theoretical investigation of a variety of hypothetical 200 microm pitch designs. At low exposures, such improvements could greatly increase the magnitude of the low spatial frequency component of the DQE, rendering it practically independent of exposure while simultaneously reducing the falloff in DQE at higher spatial frequencies. Furthermore, such noise reduction and gain enhancement could lead to the development of AMFPIs with high DQE performance which are capable of providing both high resolution radiographic images, at approximately 100 microm pixel resolution, as well as variable resolution fluoroscopic images at 30 fps.
Jeffrey H Siewerdsen, D A Jaffray
In: Medical Physics, vol. 26, no. 12, pp. 2635-2647, 1999, ISSN: 0094-2405.
A system for cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) has been developed based upon the technology of active matrix flat-panel imagers (FPIs), and the system has demonstrated the potential for fully three-dimensional volumetric imaging with high spatial and contrast resolution. This paper investigates the effects of image lag (arising from charge trapping and release in the FPI pixels) upon CBCT reconstructions. Hypotheses were derived based upon a simple, geometrical/physical model, suggesting that image lag in the projection data results primarily in two artifacts: a spatial blurring artifact in the direction opposite to the direction of rotation (called a "comet") and a line artifact along the direction of the first few projections (called a "streak"). The hypotheses were tested by means of computer simulations and experimental measurements that yielded CBCT images of a simple cylindrical water phantom containing an attenuating rod of varying size and composition. The computer simulations generated projection images based upon analysis of the system geometry and a simple model of the FPI that allowed free adjustment of the image lag. Experimental measurements involved CBCT scans of the phantom under various conditions and modes of acquisition followed by examination of the resulting CBCT axial slices for lag artifacts. Measurements were performed as a function of exposure level, position and contrast of the rod, and for three modes of acquisition designed to isolate and/or minimize the two hypothesized artifacts. The results clearly illustrate the comet and streak artifacts, particularly in relation to high-contrast objects imaged at high exposure levels. The significance of such artifacts under clinical conditions is expected to be small, considering the magnitude of the effect relative to the morphology and composition of typical anatomy. The artifacts may become appreciable, however, in the presence of high-contrast objects, such as marker BBs, dental fillings, and metal prosthetics. A procedural method of reducing lag artifacts is demonstrated.
Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, David A. Jaffray
In: Medical Physics, vol. 26, no. 8, pp. 1624-1641, 1999, ISSN: 0094-2405.
Spatial and temporal imaging characteristics of an amorphous silicon flat-panel imager (FPI) were investigated in terms relevant to the application of such devices in cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) and other x-ray imaging modalities, including general radiography, fluoroscopy, mammography, radiotherapy portal imaging, and nondestructive testing. Specifically, issues of image lag (including the magnitude, spatial uniformity, temporal-frequency characteristics, and dependence upon exposure and frame time) and long-term image persistence ("ghosts") were investigated. As part of the basic characterization of the FPI, pixel dark signal and noise (magnitude, temporal stability, and spatial uniformity) as well as radiation response (signal size, linearity, gain, and reciprocity) were also measured. Image lag was analyzed as a function of frame time and incident exposure. First-frame lag (i.e., the relative residual signal in the first frame following readout of an exposure) was approximately 2-10%, depending upon incident exposure and was spatially nonuniform to a slight degree across the FPI; second-, third-, and fourth-frame lag were approximately 0.7%, 0.4%, and 0.3%, respectively (at 25% sensor saturation). Image lag was also analyzed in terms of the temporal-frequency-dependent transfer function derived from the radiation response, allowing a quantitative description of system components contributing to lag. Finally, the contrast of objects as a function of time following an exposure was measured in order to examine long-term image persistence ("ghosts"). Ghosts were found to persist up to 30 min or longer, depending upon the exposure and frame time. Two means of reducing the apparent contrast of ghost images were tested: (i) rapid scanning of the FPI at maximum frame rate, and (ii) flood-field exposure of the FPI; neither was entirely satisfactory. These results pose important considerations for application of FPIs in CBCT as well as other x-ray imaging modalities. For example in CBCT, the magnitude of image lag is such that significant artifacts in tomographic reconstructions may result if strategies are not adopted either to reduce or correct the lag between successive projections (e.g., rapid scanning between projections or iterative correction algorithms, respectively). Similarly, long-term image persistence may necessitate frequent recalibration of offset corrections.
Youcef El-Mohri, Larry E. Antonuk, Jonathan Yorkston, Kyung-Wook Jee, Manat Maolinbay, K. L. Lam, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen
In: Medical Physics, vol. 26, no. 8, pp. 1530-1541, 1999, ISSN: 0094-2405.
The first examination of the use of active matrix flat-panel arrays for dosimetry in radiotherapy is reported. Such arrays are under widespread development for diagnostic and radiotherapy imaging. In the current study, an array consisting of 512 x 512 pixels with a pixel pitch of 508 microm giving an area of 26 x 26 cm2 has been used. Each pixel consists of a light sensitive amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) photodiode coupled to an a-Si:H thin-film transistor. Data was obtained from the array using a dedicated electronics system allowing real-time data acquisition. In order to examine the potential of such arrays as quality assurance devices for radiotherapy beams, field profile data at photon energies of 6 and 15 MV were obtained as a function of field size and thickness of overlying absorbing material (solid water). Two detection configurations using the array were considered: a configuration (similar to the imaging configuration) in which an overlying phosphor screen is used to convert incident radiation to visible light photons which are detected by the photodiodes; and a configuration without the screen where radiation is directly sensed by the photodiodes. Compared to relative dosimetry data obtained with an ion chamber, data taken using the former configuration exhibited significant differences whereas data obtained using the latter configuration was generally found to be in close agreement. Basic signal properties, which are pertinent to dosimetry, have been investigated through measurements of individual pixel response for fluoroscopic and radiographic array operation. For signal levels acquired within the first 25% of pixel charge capacity, the degree of linear response with dose was found to be better than 99%. The independence of signal on dose rate was demonstrated by means of stability of pixel response over the range of dose rates allowed by the radiation source (80-400 MU/min). Finally, excellent long-term stability in pixel response, extending over a 2 month period, was observed.
Larry E. Antonuk, Youcef El-Mohri, Weidong Huang, Kyung-Wook Jee, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, Manat Maolinbay, Victor E. Scarpine, Howard M. Sandler, John Yorkston
In: International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 437-454, 1998, ISSN: 0360-3016.
PURPOSE: The development of the first prototype active matrix flat-panel imager (AMFPI) capable of radiographic and fluoroscopic megavoltage operation is reported. The signal and noise performance of individual pixels is empirically quantified. Results of an observer-dependent study of imaging performance, using a contrast-detail phantom, are detailed and radiographic patient images are shown. Finally, a theoretical investigation of the zero-frequency detective quantum efficiency (DQE) performance of such imagers, using a cascaded systems formalism, is presented.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: The imager is based on a 508-microm pitch, 26 x 26 cm2 array which detects radiation indirectly via an overlying copper plate + phosphor screen converter.
RESULTS: Due to its excellent optical coupling, the imager exhibits sensitivity superior to that of video-based systems. With an approximately 133 mg/cm2 Gd2O2S:Tb screen the system is x-ray quantum-noise-limited down to approximately 0.3 cGy, conservatively, and extensions of this behavior to even lower doses by means of reduced additive electronic noise is predicted. The observer-dependent study indicates performance superior to that of conventional radiotherapy film while the patient images demonstrate good image quality at 1 to 4 MU. The theoretical studies suggest that, with a 133 mg/cm2 Gd2O2S:Tb screen, the system would provide DQE performance equivalent to that of video-based systems and that almost a factor of two improvement in DQE is achievable through the incorporation of a 400 mg/cm2 screen.
CONCLUSION: The reported prototype imager is the first megavoltage AMFPI having performance characteristics consistent with practical clinical operation. The superior contrast-detail sensitivity of the imager allows the capture of high-quality 6- and 15-MV images at minimal dose. Moreover, significant performance improvements, including extension of the operational range up to full portal doses, appear feasible. Such capabilities could be of considerable practical benefit in patient localization and verification.
Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, Larry E. Antonuk, Youcef El-Mohri, John Yorkston, Weidong Huang, Ian A. Cunningham
In: Medical Physics, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 614-628, 1998, ISSN: 0094-2405.
The performance of an indirect-detection, active matrix flat-panel imager (FPI) at diagnostic energies is reported in terms of measured and theoretical signal size, noise power spectrum (NPS), and detective quantum efficiency (DQE). Based upon a 1536 x 1920 pixel, 127 microns pitch array of a-Si:H thin-film transistors and photodiodes, the FPI was developed as a prototype for examination of the potential of flat-panel technology in diagnostic x-ray imaging. The signal size per unit exposure (x-ray sensitivity) was measured for the FPI incorporating five commercially available Gd2O2S:Tb converting screens at energies 70-120 kVp. One-dimensional and two-dimensional NPS and DQE were measured for the FPI incorporating three such converters and as a function of the incident exposure. The measurements support the hypothesis that FPIs have significant potential for application in diagnostic radiology. A cascaded systems model that has shown good agreement with measured individual pixel signal and noise properties is employed to describe the performance of various FPI designs and configurations under a variety of diagnostic imaging conditions. Theoretical x-ray sensitivity, NPS, and DQE are compared to empirical results, and good agreement is observed in each case. The model is used to describe the potential performance of FPIs incorporating a recently developed, enhanced array that is commercially available and has been proposed for testing and application in diagnostic radiography and fluoroscopy. Under conditions corresponding to chest radiography, the analysis suggests that such systems can potentially meet or even exceed the DQE performance of existing technology, such as screen-film and storage phosphor systems; however, under conditions corresponding to general fluoroscopy, the typical exposure per frame is such that the DQE is limited by the total system gain and additive electronic noise. The cascaded systems analysis provides a valuable means of identifying the limiting stages of the imaging system, a tool for system optimization, and a guide for developing strategies of FPI design for various imaging applications.
Larry E. Antonuk, Youcef El-Mohri, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, John Yorkston, Weidong Huang, Victor E. Scarpine, Robert A. Street
In: Medical Physics, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 51-70, 1997, ISSN: 0094-2405.
Signal properties of the first large-area, high resolution, active matrix, flat-panel imager are reported. The imager is based on an array of 1536 x 1920 pixels with a pixel-to-pixel pitch of 127 microns. Each pixel consists of a discrete amorphous silicon n-i-p photodiode coupled to an amorphous silicon thin-film transistor. The imager detects incident x rays indirectly by means of an intensifying screen placed over the array. External acquisition electronics send control signals to the array and process analog imaging signals from the pixels. Considerations for operation of the imager in both fluoroscopic and radiographic modes are detailed and empirical signal performance data are presented with an emphasis on exploring similarities and differences between the two modes. Measurements which characterize the performance of the imager were performed as a function of operational parameters in the absence or presence of illumination from a light-emitting diode or x rays. These measurements include characterization of the drift and magnitude of the pixel dark signal, the size of the pixel switching transient, the temporal behavior of pixel sampling and the implied maximum frame rate, the dependence of relative pixel efficiency and pixel response on photodiode reverse bias voltage and operational mode, the degree of linearity of pixel response, and the trapping and release of charge from metastable states in the photodiodes. In addition, X-ray sensitivity as a function of energy for a variety of phosphor screens for both fluoroscopic and radiographic operation is reported. Example images of a line-pair pattern and an anthropomorphic phantom in each mode are presented along with a radiographic image of a human hand. General and specific improvements in imager design are described and anticipated developments are discussed. This represents the first systematic investigation of the operation and properties in both radiographic and fluoroscopic modes of an imager incorporating such an array.
Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, Larry E. Antonuk, Youcef El-Mohri, John Yorkston, Weidong Huang, John M. Boudry, Ian A. Cunningham
In: Medical Physics, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 71-89, 1997, ISSN: 0094-2405.
Noise properties of active matrix, flat-panel imagers under conditions relevant to diagnostic radiology are investigated. These studies focus on imagers based upon arrays with pixels incorporating a discrete photodiode coupled to a thin-film transistor, both fabricated from hydrogenated amorphous silicon. These optically sensitive arrays are operated with an overlying x-ray converter to allow indirect detection of incident x rays. External electronics, including gate driver circuits and preamplification circuits, are also required to operate the arrays. A theoretical model describing the signal and noise transfer properties of the imagers under conditions relevant to diagnostic radiography, fluoroscopy, and mammography is developed. This frequency-dependent model is based upon a cascaded systems analysis wherein the imager is conceptually divided into a series of stages having intrinsic gain and spreading properties. Predictions from the model are compared with x-ray sensitivity and noise measurements obtained from individual pixels from an imager with a pixel format of 1536 x 1920 pixels at a pixel pitch of 127 microns. The model is shown to be in excellent agreement with measurements obtained with diagnostic x rays using various phosphor screens. The model is used to explore the potential performance of existing and hypothetical imagers for application in radiography, fluoroscopy, and mammography as a function of exposure, additive noise, and fill factor. These theoretical predictions suggest that imagers of this general design incorporating a CsI: Tl intensifying screen can be optimized to provide detective quantum efficiency (DQE) superior to existing screen-film and storage phosphor systems for general radiography and mammography. For fluoroscopy, the model predicts that with further optimization of a-Si:H imagers, DQE performance approaching that of the best x-ray image intensifier systems may be possible. The results of this analysis suggest strategies for future improvements of this imaging technology.
Larry E. Antonuk, John Yorkston, Weidong Huang, Howard M. Sandler, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, Youcef El-Mohri
In: International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 661-172, 1996, ISSN: 0360-3016.
PURPOSE: The creation of the first large-area, amorphous silicon megavoltage imager is reported. The imager is an engineering prototype built to serve as a stepping stone toward the creation of a future clinical prototype. The engineering prototype is described and various images demonstrating its properties are shown including the first reported patient image acquired with such an amorphous silicon imaging device. Specific limitations in the engineering prototype are reviewed and potential advantages of future, more optimized imagers of this type are presented.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: The imager is based on a two-dimensional, pixelated array containing amorphous silicon field-effect transistors and photodiode sensors which are deposited on a thin glass substrate. The array has a 512 x 560-pixel format and a pixel pitch of 450 microns giving an imaging area of approximately 23 x 25 cm2. The array is used in conjunction with an overlying metal plate/phosphor screen converter as well as an electronic acquisition system. Images were acquired fluoroscopically using a megavoltage treatment machine.
RESULTS: Array and digitized film images of a variety of anthropomorphic phantoms and of a human subject are presented and compared. The information content of the array images generally appears to be at least as great as that of the digitized film images.
CONCLUSION: Despite a variety of severe limitations in the engineering prototype, including many array defects, a relatively slow and noisy acquisition system, and the lack of a means to generate images in a radiographic manner, the prototype nevertheless generated clinically useful information. The general properties of these amorphous silicon arrays, along with the quality of the images provided by the engineering prototype, strongly suggest that such arrays could eventually form the basis of a new imaging technology for radiotherapy localization and verification. The development of a clinically useful prototype offering high-quality images, ultimately with an approximately 52 x 52-cm2 detection surface, is anticipated.
Larry E. Antonuk, John Yorkston, Weidong Huang, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, John M. Boudry, Youcef El-Mohri, M. Victoria Marx
A real-time, flat-panel, amorphous silicon, digital x-ray imager Journal Article
In: RadioGraphics, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 993-1000, 1995, ISSN: 0271-5333.
As part of the development necessary for implementing a fully digital radiology department, the authors have investigated thin-film photodiodes and transistors for use in new photoelectronic imaging devices. One such device, a large-area, flat-panel, amorphous silicon imaging array, has been developed and is currently being tested. The array has a format of 512 x 560 pixels, a pixel-to-pixel pitch of 450 microns, and an area of 230 x 252 mm2, making it the largest self-scanning, solid-state imaging array developed to date. The array is used in conjunction with an overlying x-ray converter. Although specifically designed for megavoltage imaging, the device can produce high-quality, low spatial resolution, diagnostic x-ray images. Qualitative comparisons of array images of anthropomorphic head, chest, and pelvic phantoms and a spatial resolution pattern suggest that much of the information content of the film images at low spatial resolution is present in the corresponding array images. Current trends in the development of large-area, flat-panel imaging technology hold the promise of higher resolution arrays in the near future.
Prasad Vagdargi, Ali Uneri, Craig K. Jones, Pengwei Wu, Runze Han, Mark G. Luciano, William S. Anderson, Patrick A. Helm, Gregory D. Hager, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen
In: IEEE Transactions on Medical Robotics and Bionics, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 28-37, 0000, ISSN: 2576-3202 .
Conventional neuro-navigation can be challenged in targeting deep brain structures via transventricular neuroendoscopy due to unresolved geometric error following soft-tissue deformation. Current robot-assisted endoscopy techniques are fairly limited, primarily serving to planned trajectories and provide a stable scope holder. We report the implementation of a robot-assisted ventriculoscopy (RAV) system for 3D reconstruction, registration, and augmentation of the neuroendoscopic scene with intraoperative imaging, enabling guidance even in the presence of tissue deformation and providing visualization of structures beyond the endoscopic field-of-view. Phantom studies were performed to quantitatively evaluate image sampling requirements, registration accuracy, and computational runtime for two reconstruction methods and a variety of clinically relevant ventriculoscope trajectories. A median target registration error of 1.2 mm was achieved with an update rate of 2.34 frames per second, validating the RAV concept and motivating translation to future clinical studies.