The present and future of spectral imaging

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The present and future of spectral imaging

October 09, 2018
CT X-Ray
From the October 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

But for all its inherent appeal and increasing accessibility, today’s spectral imaging technology is still limited to the acquisition of only two different sets of image data. The next logical extension of spectral imaging is photon counting, a technology being developed and installed by multiple manufacturers as a prototype in a select few academic institutions. Photon-counting detectors not only register (or count) each photon in an X-ray beam, but they also measure its energy, enabling the sorting of photons into different energy bins.

That ability to gauge each photon’s energy output represents true multi-energy imaging, and it could have profound implications. While current spectral imaging technology is sufficient to characterize some materials in the human body and to quantify iodine enhancement, new contrast materials with additional absorption peaks could one day enable simultaneous imaging of multiple contrast agents. For example, clinicians could highlight and tag a specific lesion with one agent and enhance the vasculature feeding it with another agent.

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Exactly when this next iteration of spectral imaging will advance beyond the prototype stage is unclear. But this much is certain: Spectral imaging will one day become THE imaging standard for CT, delivering significant added value in terms of quantitative and functional information beyond the advanced structural imaging of today – all to improve patient outcomes.

About the author: Christian Eusemann, Ph.D., is vice president of collaborations at Siemens Healthineers North America.

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