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X-ray Phase-Contrast Computed Tomography for Soft Tissue Imaging at the Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL) of the Australian Synchrotron

Hall, CJ; Thompson, D; Mayo, SC; Fiala, T; Taba, ST; Lewis, SJ; Stevenson, AW; Abbey, B; Nesterets, YI; Maksimenko, A; Brennan, PC; Dimmock, M; Hausermann, D; Arhatari, BD; Quiney, HM; Gureyev, TE

X-ray Phase-Contrast Computed Tomography for Soft Tissue Imaging at the Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL) of the Australian Synchrotron Thumbnail


CJ Hall

D Thompson

SC Mayo

T Fiala

ST Taba

SJ Lewis

AW Stevenson

B Abbey

YI Nesterets

A Maksimenko

PC Brennan

D Hausermann

BD Arhatari

HM Quiney

TE Gureyev


The Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL) is a superconducting multipole wiggler-based beamline at the 3 GeV Australian Synchrotron operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). The beamline delivers hard X-rays in the 25–120 keV energy range and offers the potential for a range of biomedical X-ray applications, including radiotherapy and medical imaging experiments. One of the imaging modalities available at IMBL is propagation-based X-ray phase-contrast computed tomography (PCT). PCT produces superior results when imaging low-density materials such as soft tissue (e.g., breast mastectomies) and has the potential to be developed into a valuable medical imaging tool. We anticipate that PCT will be utilized for medical breast imaging in the near future with the advantage that it could provide better contrast than conventional X-ray absorption imaging. The unique properties of synchrotron X-ray sources such as high coherence, energy tunability, and high brightness are particularly well-suited for generating PCT data using very short exposure times on the order of less than 1 min. The coherence of synchrotron radiation allows for phase-contrast imaging with superior sensitivity to small differences in soft-tissue density. Here we also compare the results of PCT using two different detectors, as these unique source characteristics need to be complemented with a highly efficient detector. Moreover, the application of phase retrieval for PCT image reconstruction enables the use of noisier images, potentially significantly reducing the total dose received by patients during acquisition. This work is part of ongoing research into innovative tomographic methods aimed at the introduction of 3D X-ray medical imaging at the IMBL to improve the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Major progress in this area at the IMBL includes the characterization of a large number of mastectomy samples, both normal and cancerous, which have been scanned at clinically acceptable radiation dose levels and evaluated by expert radiologists with respect to both image quality and cancer diagnosis.

Acceptance Date Apr 28, 2021
Publication Date May 1, 2021
Journal Applied Sciences
Publisher MDPI
Publisher URL