Cone-beam imaging with tilted rotation axis: Method and performance evaluation

Chumin Zhao, Magdalena Herbst, Sebastian Vogt, Ludwig Ritschl, Steffen Kappler, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, Wojciech Zbijewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The recently introduced robotic x-ray systems provide the flexibility to acquire cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) data using customized, application-specific source-detector trajectories. We exploit this capability to mitigate the effects of x-ray scatter and noise in CBCT imaging of weight-bearing foot and cervical spine (C-spine) using scan orbits with a tilted rotation axis. Methods: We used an advanced CBCT simulator implementing accurate models of x-ray scatter, primary attenuation, and noise to investigate the effects of the orbital tilt angle in upright foot and C-spine imaging. The system model was parameterized using a laboratory version of a three-dimensional (3D) robotic x-ray system (Multitom RAX, Siemens Healthineers). We considered a generalized tilted axis scan configuration, where the detector remained parallel to patient's long body axis during the acquisition, but the elevation of source and detector was changing. A modified Feldkamp–Davis–Kress (FDK) algorithm was developed for reconstruction in this configuration, which departs from the FDK assumption of a detector that is perpendicular to the scan plane. The simulated foot scans involved source-detector distance (SDD) of 1386 mm, orbital tilt angles ranging 10° to 40°, and 400 views at 1 mAs/view and 0.5° increment; the C-spine scans involved −25° to −45° tilt angles, SDD of 1090 mm, and 202 views at 1.3 mAs and 1° increment The imaging performance was assessed by projection-domain measurements of the scatter-to-primary ratio (SPR) and by reconstruction-domain measurements of contrast, noise and generalized contrast-to-noise ratio (gCNR, accounting for both image noise and background nonuniformity) of the metatarsals (foot imaging) and cervical vertebrae (spine imaging). The effects of scatter correction were also compared for horizontal and tilted scans using an ideal Monte Carlo (MC)-based scatter correction and a frame-by-frame mean scatter correction. Results: The proposed modified FDK, involving projection resampling, mitigated streak artifacts caused by the misalignment between the filtering direction and the detector rows. For foot imaging (no grids), an optimized 20° tilted orbit reduced the maximum SPR from ~1.5 in a horizontal scan to <0.5. The gCNR of the second metatarsal was enhanced twofold compared to a horizontal orbit. For the C-spine (with vertical grids), imaging with a tilted orbit avoided highly attenuating x-ray paths through the lower cervical vertebrae and shoulders. A −35° tilted orbit yielded improved image quality and visualization of the lower cervical spine: the SPR of lower cervical vertebrae was reduced from ~10 (horizontal orbit) to <6 (tilted orbit), and the gCNR for C5–C7 increased by a factor of 2. Furthermore, tilted orbits showed potential benefits over horizontal orbits by enabling scatter correction with a simple frame-by-frame mean correction without substantial increase in noise-induced artifacts after the correction. Conclusions: Tilted scan trajectories, enabled by the emerging robotic x-ray system technology, were optimized for CBCT imaging of foot and cervical spine using an advanced simulation framework. The results demonstrated the potential advantages of tilted axis orbits in mitigation of scatter artifacts and improving contrast-to-noise ratio in CBCT reconstructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3305-3320
Number of pages16
JournalMedical physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • cervical spine
  • cone-beam CT
  • extremity
  • robotic x-ray systems
  • scan orbit optimization
  • tilted orbits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Cone-beam imaging with tilted rotation axis: Method and performance evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this