Scanner Prototype Represents Soft Tissue

Photo: CT prototype

Mounted in a movable gantry inside
the CT scanner are an x-ray
source, a detector and a three-
grating interferometer; © TUM

A German, Swedish, and Belgian team led by scientists at the Technische Universität München (TUM) show the first experimental results demonstrating the practical potential of this technology, which can significantly improve the contrast in CT scans. Their work could mark a critical step in moving beyond proof-of-concept experiments to applications —including in vivo preclinical imaging with small-animal models in the mid-term future and, in the long term, medical CT scanning.

Conventional x-ray imaging is based on recording the intensity of x-rays behind the imaged object or patient. This method has limitations in medical imaging, especially for examining tissues such as cancer and cartilage, which are hardly visible in conventional images. Novel x-ray technology does not rely solely on the attenuation of x-ray intensity, but also takes advantage of the slightly deflected propagation direction of x-rays. In order to make this effect visible in the so-called phase image, grating-based interferometry is employed, which requires highly precise alignment of x-ray optical components.

Franz Pfeiffer, TUM professor for biomedical physics and head of the research team explains: “For several years we have worked on novel x-ray technology for improved diagnosis in medical imaging. Up until now, we could only investigate excised tissue on bench-top setups in our labs. But now, we took the step of implementing this technology in an in vivo micro-CT scanner. With this step we bring the technology much closer to the hospital, and we hope to make it available for patients in the future.”

MEDICA.de; Quelle: Technische Universität München