Propagation-based X-ray phase-contrast computed tomography (PBI) has already proven its potential in a great variety of soft-tissue-related applications including lung imaging. However, the strong edge enhancement, caused by the phase effects, often hampers image segmentation and therefore the quantitative analysis of data sets. Here, the benefits of applying single-distance phase retrieval prior to the three-dimensional reconstruction (PhR) are discussed and quantified compared with three-dimensional reconstructions of conventional PBI data sets in terms of contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) and preservation of image features. The PhR data sets show more than a tenfold higher CNR and only minor blurring of the edges when compared with PBI in a predominately absorption-based set-up. Accordingly, phase retrieval increases the sensitivity and provides more functionality in computed tomography imaging.
Keywords: computed tomography; lung imaging; phase retrieval; phase-contrast imaging.