Feasibility of spectral CT imaging for the detection of liver lesions with gold-based contrast agents - A simulation study

Phys Med. 2015 Dec;31(8):875-881. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmp.2015.06.004. Epub 2015 Jul 2.


Purpose: To demonstrate the feasibility of gold-specific spectral CT imaging for the detection of liver lesions in humans at low concentrations of gold as targeted contrast agent.

Methods: A Monte Carlo simulation study of spectral CT imaging with a photon-counting and energy-resolving detector (with 6 energy bins) was performed in a realistic phantom of the human abdomen. The detector energy thresholds were optimized for the detection of gold. The simulation results were reconstructed with the K-edge imaging algorithm; the reconstructed gold-specific images were filtered and evaluated with respect to signal-to-noise ratio and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR).

Results: The simulations demonstrate the feasibility of spectral CT with CNRs of the specific gold signal between 2.7 and 4.8 after bilateral filtering. Using the optimized bin thresholds increases the CNRs of the lesions by up to 23% compared to bin thresholds described in former studies.

Conclusions: Gold is a promising new CT contrast agent for spectral CT in humans; minimum tissue mass fractions of 0.2 wt% of gold are required for sufficient image contrast.

Keywords: Contrast agent; Gold; K-edge imaging; Monte Carlo simulation; Spectral CT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Contrast Media*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Gold*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Contrast Media
  • Gold