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Phys Med Biol. 2011 Jun 21;56(12):3487-502. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/56/12/003. Epub 2011 May 23.

Limited-angle x-ray luminescence tomography: methodology and feasibility study.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


X-ray luminescence tomography (XLT) has recently been proposed as a new imaging modality for biological imaging applications. This modality utilizes phosphor nanoparticles which luminesce near-infrared light when excited by x-ray photons. The advantages of this modality are that it uniquely combines the high sensitivity of radioluminescent nanoparticles and the high spatial localization of collimated x-ray beams. Currently, XLT has been demonstrated using x-ray spatial encoding to resolve the imaging volume. However, there are applications where the x-ray excitation may be limited by geometry, where increased temporal resolution is desired, or where a lower dose is mandatory. This paper extends the utility of XLT to meet these requirements by incorporating a photon propagation model into the reconstruction algorithm in an x-ray limited-angle (LA) geometry. This enables such applications as image-guided surgery, where the ability to resolve lesions at depths of several centimeters can be the key to successful resection. The hybrid x-ray/diffuse optical model is first formulated and then demonstrated in a breast-sized phantom, simulating a breast lumpectomy geometry. Both numerical and experimental phantoms are tested, with lesion-simulating objects of various sizes and depths. Results show localization accuracy with median error of 2.2 mm, or 4% of object depth, for small 2-14 mm diameter lesions positioned from 1 to 4.5 cm in depth. This compares favorably with fluorescence optical imaging, which is not able to resolve such small objects at this depth. The recovered lesion size has lower size bias in the x-ray excitation direction than the optical direction, which is expected due to the increased optical scatter. However, the technique is shown to be quite invariant in recovered size with respect to depth, as the standard deviation is less than 2.5 mm. Sensitivity is a function of dose; radiological doses are found to provide sufficient recovery for µg ml(-1) concentrations, while therapy dosages provide recovery for ng ml(-1) concentrations. Experimental phantom results agree closely with the numerical results, with positional errors recovered within 8.6% of the effective depth for a 5 mm object, and within 5.2% of the depth for a 10 mm object. Object-size median error is within 2.3% and 2% for the 5 and 10 mm objects, respectively. For shallow-to-medium depth applications where optical and radio-emission imaging modalities are not ideal, such as in intra-operative procedures, LAXLT may be a useful tool to detect molecular signatures of disease.

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