Automatic exposure control

Last revised by Dr Jeremy Jones on 20 Sep 2021

Automatic exposure control (AEC) is a device incorporated into radiographic and mammographic imaging systems. Its function is to automatically terminate exposure when a preset amount of radiation has been detected.

Automatic exposure control systems help to provide a consistent optical density/signal-to-noise ratio between images, regardless of patient-centric factors such as size and density.

Automatic exposure control systems also help to reduce 'dose creep' that can occur with inadvertent radiation overexposure by the technologist.

The first generation of automatic exposure control systems are phototimers, which have now largely been superseded by ionization chambers.

In radiography, the automatic exposure control device is placed in front of the image receptor. In mammography, the automatic exposure control device is placed underneath the image receptor.

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