Accurate MTF measurement in digital radiography using noise response

Med Phys. 2010 Feb;37(2):724-35. doi: 10.1118/1.3284376.


Purpose: The authors describe a new technique to determine the system presampled modulation transfer function (MTF) in digital radiography using only the detector noise response.

Methods: A cascaded-linear systems analysis was used to develop an exact relationship between the two-dimensional noise power spectrum (NPS) and the presampled MTF for a generalized detector system. This relationship was then utilized to determine the two-dimensional presampled MTF. For simplicity, aliasing of the correlated noise component of the NPS was assumed to be negligible. Accuracy of this method was investigated using simulated images from a simple detector model in which the "true" MTF was known exactly. Measurements were also performed on three detector technologies (an x-ray image intensifier, an indirect flat panel detector, and a solid state x-ray image intensifier), and the results were compared using the standard edge-response method. Flat-field and edge images were acquired and analyzed according to guidelines set forth by the International Electrotechnical Commission, using the RQA 5 spectrum.

Results: The presampled MTF determined using the noise-response method for the simulated detector system was in close agreement with the true MTF with an averaged percent difference of 0.3% and a maximum difference of 1.1% observed at the Nyquist frequency (fN). The edge-response method of the simulated detector system also showed very good agreement at lower spatial frequencies (less than 0.5 fN) with an averaged percent difference of 1.6% but showed significant discrepancies at higher spatial frequencies (greater than 0.5 fN) with an averaged percent difference of 17%. Discrepancies were in part a result of noise in the edge image and phasing errors. For all three detector systems, the MTFs obtained using the two methods were found to be in good agreement at spatial frequencies less than 0.5 fN with an averaged percent difference of 3.4%. Above 0.5 fN, differences increased to an average of 20%. Deviations of the experimental results largely followed the trend seen in the simulation results, suggesting that differences between the two methods could be explained as resulting from the inherent inaccuracies of the edge-response measurement technique used in this study. Aliasing of the correlated noise component was shown to have a minimal effect on the measured MTF for the three detectors studied. Systems with significant aliasing of the correlated noise component (e.g., a-Se based detectors) would likely require a more sophisticated fitting scheme to provide accurate results.

Conclusions: Results indicate that the noise-response method, a simple technique, can be used to accurately measure the MTF of digital x-ray detectors, while alleviating the problems and inaccuracies associated with use of precision test objects, such as a slit or an edge.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Equipment Failure Analysis / methods
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / instrumentation*
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity