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Phys Med Biol. 2007 Dec 7;52(23):7087-108. Epub 2007 Nov 15.

A quality assurance phantom for the performance evaluation of volumetric micro-CT systems.

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Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.


Small-animal imaging has recently become an area of increased interest because more human diseases can be modeled in transgenic and knockout rodents. As a result, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) systems are becoming more common in research laboratories, due to their ability to achieve spatial resolution as high as 10 microm, giving highly detailed anatomical information. Most recently, a volumetric cone-beam micro-CT system using a flat-panel detector (eXplore Ultra, GE Healthcare, London, ON) has been developed that combines the high resolution of micro-CT and the fast scanning speed of clinical CT, so that dynamic perfusion imaging can be performed in mice and rats, providing functional physiological information in addition to anatomical information. This and other commercially available micro-CT systems all promise to deliver precise and accurate high-resolution measurements in small animals. However, no comprehensive quality assurance phantom has been developed to evaluate the performance of these micro-CT systems on a routine basis. We have designed and fabricated a single comprehensive device for the purpose of performance evaluation of micro-CT systems. This quality assurance phantom was applied to assess multiple image-quality parameters of a current flat-panel cone-beam micro-CT system accurately and quantitatively, in terms of spatial resolution, geometric accuracy, CT number accuracy, linearity, noise and image uniformity. Our investigations show that 3D images can be obtained with a limiting spatial resolution of 2.5 mm(-1) and noise of +/-35 HU, using an acquisition interval of 8 s at an entrance dose of 6.4 cGy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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