Physics in medicine and biology vol:53 issue:18 pages:4927-4940
Image quality (IQ) evaluation plays a key role in the process of optimization of new x-ray systems. Ideally, this process should be supported by real clinical images, but ethical issues and differences in anatomy and pathology of patients make it impossible. Phantom studies might overcome these issues. This paper presents the IQ evaluation of 30 cineangiographic films acquired with a cardiac flat panel system. The phantom used simulates the anatomy of the heart and allows the circulation of contrast agent boluses through coronary arteries. Variables investigated with influence on IQ and radiation dose are: tube potential, detector dose, added Copper filters, dynamic density optimization (DDO) and viewing angle. The IQ evaluation consisted of scoring 4 simulated calcified lesions located on different coronary artery segments in terms of degree of visualization. Eight cardiologists rated the lesions using a five-point scale ((1) lesion not visible to (5) very good visibility). Radiation doses associated to the angiograms are expressed in terms of incident air kerma (IAK) and effective dose that has been calculated with PCXMX software (STUK, Finland) from the exposure settings assuming a standard sized patient of 70 Kg. Mean IQ scores ranged from 1.68 to 4.88. The highest IQ scores were obtained for the angiograms acquired with tube potential 80 kVp, no added Cu filters, DDO 60%, RAO and LAO views and the highest entrance detector dose that has been used in the present study, namely 0.17 microGy/im. Radiation doses (IAK approximately 40 mGy and effective dose of 1 mSv) were estimated for angiograms acquired at 15 frames s(-1), detector field-of-view 20 cm, and a length of 5 s. The following parameters improved the IQ factor significantly: a change in tube potential from 96 to 80 kVp, detector dose from 0.10 microGy/im to 0.17 microGy/im, the absence of Copper filtration. DDO variable which is a post-processing parameter should be carefully evaluated because it alters the quality of the images independently of radiation exposure settings. The SAM anthropomorphic phantom has the advantage of visualization of stenotic lesions during the injection of a contrast agent and using an anatomical background. In the future, this phantom could potentially bridge the gap between physics tests and the clinical reality in the catheterization laboratory.