Format of Original
Institute of Physics
Physics in Medicine and Biology
Original Item ID
Photon-counting x-ray detectors with pulse-height analysis provide spectral information that may improve material decomposition and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) in CT images. The number of energy measurements that can be acquired simultaneously on a detector pixel is equal to the number of comparator channels. Some spectral CT designs have a limited number of comparator channels, due to the complexity of readout electronics. The spectral information could be extended by changing the comparator threshold levels over time, sub pixels, or view angle. However, acquiring more energy measurements than comparator channels increases the noise and/or dose, due to differences in noise correlations across energy measurements and decreased dose utilisation. This study experimentally quantified the effects of acquiring more energy measurements than comparator channels using a bench-top spectral CT system. An analytical and simulation study modeling an ideal detector investigated whether there was a net benefit for material decomposition or optimal energy weighting when acquiring more energy measurements than comparator channels. Experimental results demonstrated that in a two-threshold acquisition, acquiring the high-energy measurement independently from the low-energy measurement increased noise standard deviation in material-decomposition basis images by factors of 1.5–1.7 due to changes in covariance between energy measurements. CNR in energy-weighted images decreased by factors of 0.92–0.71. Noise standard deviation increased by an additional factor of due to reduced dose utilisation. The results demonstrated no benefit for two-material decomposition noise or energy-weighted CNR when acquiring more energy measurements than comparator channels. Understanding the noise penalty of acquiring more energy measurements than comparator channels is important for designing spectral detectors and for designing experiments and interpreting data from prototype systems with a limited number of comparator channels.