Element-specific spectral imaging of multiple contrast agents: A phantom study

R. K. Panta, S. T. Bell, J. L. Healy, R. Aamir, C. J. Bateman, M. Moghiseh, A. P.H. Butler, N. G. Anderson

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27 Scopus citations


This work demonstrates the feasibility of simultaneous discrimination of multiple contrast agents based on their element-specific and energy-dependent X-ray attenuation properties using a pre-clinical photon-counting spectral CT. We used a photon-counting based pre-clinical spectral CT scanner with four energy thresholds to measure the X-ray attenuation properties of various concentrations of iodine (9, 18 and 36 mg/ml), gadolinium (2, 4 and 8 mg/ml) and gold (2, 4 and 8 mg/ml) based contrast agents, calcium chloride (140 and 280 mg/ml) and water. We evaluated the spectral imaging performances of different energy threshold schemes between 25 to 82 keV at 118 kVp, based on K-factor and signal-to-noise ratio and ranked them. K-factor was defined as the X-ray attenuation in the K-edge containing energy range divided by the X-ray attenuation in the preceding energy range, expressed as a percentage. We evaluated the effectiveness of the optimised energy selection to discriminate all three contrast agents in a phantom of 33 mm diameter. A photon-counting spectral CT using four energy thresholds of 27, 33, 49 and 81 keV at 118 kVp simultaneously discriminated three contrast agents based on iodine, gadolinium and gold at various concentrations using their K-edge and energy-dependent X-ray attenuation features in a single scan. A ranking method to evaluate spectral imaging performance enabled energy thresholds to be optimised to discriminate iodine, gadolinium and gold contrast agents in a single spectral CT scan. Simultaneous discrimination of multiple contrast agents in a single scan is likely to open up new possibilities of improving the accuracy of disease diagnosis by simultaneously imaging multiple bio-markers each labelled with a nano-contrast agent.

Original languageBritish English
Article numberT02001
JournalJournal of Instrumentation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 6 Feb 2018


  • Computerized Tomography (CT) and Computed Radiography (CR)
  • Image reconstruction in medical imaging
  • Medical-image reconstruction methods and algorithms, computer-aided software
  • X-ray detectors


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