The Carestream Research Lab and a team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill co-authored a scientific paper that was presented at RSNA. The presentation documented a study involving digital tomosynthesis imaging of chest using a new X-ray source technology based on carbon nanotube material. Our goal was to produce excellent quality images that could help improve detection of lung nodules. The RSNA Scientific Program Committee recognized this work by awarding the RSNA Trainee Research Prize to the presenter.
Tomosynthesis is already well accepted in the mammography community and we believe this technology can also offer benefits for chest exams. The challenge for imaging of the lungs is that with traditional tomosynthesis scanning, image quality is degraded by the motion of patient breathing.
We constructed an experimental tomosynthesis system using a solid state carbon nanotube X-ray source array that contains 75 linearly-arranged X-ray sources. The new technology offers a microsecond X-ray on/off switch capability and each X-ray source can be activated individually. We used an anthropomorphic chest phantom and a ventilator to simulate the respiration motion with respiration rates and volume comparable to that of human. We set the system to capture a short burst of six images within 0.6 second at the end of inhalation or exhalation cycle for a total of five cycles. This is called physiologically-gated imaging.
Tomosynthesis images acquired with non-gated protocol showed blurred airways and vascular structures. However when X-ray beams were physiologically-gated, image quality was greatly improved with sharper and better defined airway edges and more visible structural details.
Tomosynthesis is a relatively new technology for general radiography but it offers many benefits. It produces 3D presentation of anatomical structures as compared to a 2D traditional X-ray, and it is more affordable and offers a lower dose than a traditional CT scanner. Our study documented that use of this prototype system can improve the imaging of lung nodules. We believe this type of technology has the potential to offer low-cost lung nodule screening and other types of imaging exams for patient populations around the world.
Xiaohui Wang, Ph.D., Program Leader, Advanced Clinical Systems and Applications, Research & Innovation Laboratories, Carestream. This scientific paper documenting this research was presented at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) conference from 11:50 am-12:00 pm CST on Monday, Dec. 1, at Room S504CD.