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Medical images are pictures of distributions of physical attributes captured by an image acquisition system. Most of today’s images are digital. They may be post-processed for analysis by a computer-assisted method. Medical images come in one of two varieties: Projection images project a physical parameter in the human body on a 2d image, while slice images produce a one-to-one mapping of the measured value. Medical images may show anatomy including pathological variation in anatomy if the measured value is related to it, or physiology when the distribution of substances is traced. X-ray imaging, CT, MRI, nuclear imaging, ultrasound imaging, optical coherence tomography, photography, light and electron microscopy, EEG, and MEG will be discussed in this chapter. The discussion focuses on the relationship between imaged physical entity and information shown in the image as well as on reconstruction methods and resulting artifacts.
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Imaging techniques are ordered by importance with respect to digital imaging and digital image analysis. Orders of importance with respect to relevance to diagnosis or with respect to frequency of examination are different, of course.
Carl Wilhelm Röntgen was professor for physics at the Julius-Maximilian-Universität Würzburg, when he discovered X-rays in his experiments with the cathode ray tube in 1895. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery.
The material for anode and cathode is usually tungsten (also called Wolfram), a chemical element belonging to the metals with the highest melting point of all metals. In CRTs for mammography, another metal, molybdenum, is used.
The detection of characteristic X-ray radiation by Charles G. Barkla in 1905 resulted in another Nobel Prize in Physics presented to its discoverer in 1917.
There are exceptions, if, e.g., images are made by two different cone beams of a rotating C-arm where the magnification of objects in the center of both cones can be computed.
Alan M. Cormack has been a physicist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa when he developed the theoretical basis for Computer Tomography in the late 1950s. This work was taken up later by Godfrey N. Hounsfield, an electrical engineer at EMI Research Lab, who presented the first whole-body CT scanner in 1975. For their invention, both received the Nobel Prize of Medicine and Physiology in 1979.
An optical solution for the reconstruction exists as well which has been proposed in the 1970s in order to overcome limitations because of lack of computing power Geluk ( 1979).
The first CT scanner was built by a record company (EMI).
The problem of image reconstruction can be stated as an algebraic problem of finding unknowns—the attenuation—from linear equations—the projections—and it can be shown that the problem becomes more ill-conditioned when some very high attenuation regions exist.
Peter Mansfield is a British physicist who provided the basis for interpreting the signal from resonance. Paul C. Lauterbur is a chemist who first provided the methodology for turning the signal into an image. For their achievement, both received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 2003.
The following discussion relates to effects observed in voxels containing a large enough number of photons so that quantum effects can be neglected.
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- Digital Image Acquisition
Klaus D. Toennies
- Springer London
- Chapter 2
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