2018 Volume 8, Issue 1, p16394
Dual-energy CT has opened up a new level of quantitative X-ray imaging for many diagnostic applications. The energy dependence of the X-ray attenuation is the key to quantitative material decomposition of the volume under investigation. This material decomposition allows the calculation of virtual native images in contrast enhanced angiography, virtual monoenergetic images for beam-hardening artifact reduction and quantitative material maps, among others. These visualizations have been proven beneficial for various diagnostic questions. Here, we demonstrate a new method of 'virtual dual-energy CT' employing grating-based phase-contrast for quantitative material decomposition. Analogue to the measurement at two different energies, the applied phase-contrast measurement approach yields dual information in form of a phase-shift and an attenuation image. Based on these two image channels, all known dual-energy applications can be demonstrated with our technique. While still in a preclinical state, the method features the important advantages of direct access to the electron density via the phase image, simultaneous availability of the conventional attenuation image at the full energy spectrum and therefore inherently registered image channels. The transfer of this signal extraction approach to phase-contrast data multiplies the diagnostic information gained within a single CT acquisition. The method is demonstrated with a phantom consisting of exemplary solid and fluid materials as well as a chicken heart with an iodine filled tube simulating a vessel. For this first demonstration all measurements have been conducted at a compact laser-undulator synchrotron X-ray source with a tunable X-ray energy and a narrow spectral bandwidth, to validate the quantitativeness of the processing approach.
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