Cascaded systems analysis of noise and detectability in dual-energy cone-beam CT

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33 Scopus citations


Purpose: Dual-energy computed tomography and dual-energy cone-beam computed tomography (DE-CBCT) are promising modalities for applications ranging from vascular to breast, renal, hepatic, and musculoskeletal imaging. Accordingly, the optimization of imaging techniques for such applications would benefit significantly from a general theoretical description of image quality that properly incorporates factors of acquisition, reconstruction, and tissue decomposition in DE tomography. This work reports a cascaded systems analysis model that includes the Poisson statistics of x rays (quantum noise), detector model (flat-panel detectors), anatomical background, image reconstruction (filtered backprojection), DE decomposition (weighted subtraction), and simple observer models to yield a task-based framework for DE technique optimization. Methods: The theoretical framework extends previous modeling of DE projection radiography and CBCT. Signal and noise transfer characteristics are propagated through physical and mathematical stages of image formation and reconstruction. Dual-energy decomposition was modeled according to weighted subtraction of low- and high-energy images to yield the 3D DE noise-power spectrum (NPS) and noise-equivalent quanta (NEQ), which, in combination with observer models and the imaging task, yields the dual-energy detectability index (d ). Model calculations were validated with NPS and NEQ measurements from an experimental imaging bench simulating the geometry of a dedicated musculoskeletal extremities scanner. Imaging techniques, including kVp pair and dose allocation, were optimized using d as an objective function for three example imaging tasks: (1) kidney stone discrimination; (2) iodine vs bone in a uniform, soft-tissue background; and (3) soft tissue tumor detection on power-law anatomical background. Results: Theoretical calculations of DE NPS and NEQ demonstrated good agreement with experimental measurements over a broad range of imaging conditions. Optimization results suggest a lower fraction of total dose imparted by the low-energy acquisition, a finding consistent with previous literature. The selection of optimal kVp pair reveals the combined effect of both quantum noise and contrast in the kidney stone discrimination and soft-tissue tumor detection tasks, whereas the K-edge effect of iodine was the dominant factor in determining kVp pairs in the iodine vs bone task. The soft-tissue tumor task illustrated the benefit of dual-energy imaging in eliminating anatomical background noise and improving detectability beyond that achievable by single-energy scans. Conclusions: This work established a task-based theoretical framework that is predictive of DE image quality. The model can be utilized in optimizing a broad range of parameters in image acquisition, reconstruction, and decomposition, providing a useful tool for maximizing DE-CBCT image quality and reducing dose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5145-5156
Number of pages12
JournalMedical physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • cascaded systems analysis
  • cone-beam CT
  • detectability index
  • dual-energy CT
  • image quality
  • imaging task
  • noise-equivalent quanta
  • noise-power spectrum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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