Are physical measures good indicators of image quality at low dose levels? A pilot study
Purpose: To evaluate if physical measures of noise predict image quality at high and low noise levels. Method: Twenty-four images were acquired on a DR system using a Pehamed DIGRAD phantom at three kVp settings (60, 70 and 81) across a range of mAs values. The image acquisition setup consisted of 14 cm of PMMA slabs with the phantom placed in the middle at 120 cm SID. Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and Contrast-to- noise ratio (CNR) were calculated for each of the images using ImageJ software and 14 observers performed image scoring. Images were scored according to the observer`s evaluation of objects visualized within the phantom.Results: The R 2 values of the non-linear relationship between objective visibility score and CNR (60kVp R 2 = 0.902; 70Kvp R 2 = 0.913; 80kVp R 2 = 0.757) demonstrate a better fit for all 3 kVp settings than the linear R 2 values. As CNR increases for all kVp settings the Object Visibility also increases. The largest increase for SNR at low exposure values (up to 2 mGy) is observed at 60kVp, when compared with 70 or 81kVp.CNR response to exposure is similar. Pearson r was calculated to assess the correlation between Score, OV, SNR and CNR. None of the correlations reached a level of statistical significance ( p >0.01). Conclusion: For object visibility and SNR, tube potential variations may play a role in object visibility. Higher energy X-ray beam settings give lower SNR but higher object visibility. Object visibility and CNR at all three tube potentials are similar, resulting in a strong positive relationship between CNR and object visibility score. At low doses the impact of radiographic noise does not have a strong influence on object visibility scores because in noisy images objects could still be identified.
Andersen, Erik Normann
von Gerwen, M.