Dark-field computed tomography

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 24 Apr 2022

Dark-field computed tomography is an emerging medical imaging technology. While conventional CT measures differential attenuation properties of the various tissues, dark-field CT utilizes their small-angle scattering (dark field) characteristics. 

Instead of attenuation of x-ray photons, dark-field CT measures the complementary small-angle scattering and refraction of x-ray interacting with tissues 1. The main benefit of the technology is that differences in the angular deviation (phase contrast) of the incident x-ray beam interacting with various biological tissues is typically greater than their attenuation difference, thus resulting in higher intrinsic contrast 2

As of 2021 dark-field CT is not in clinical use. 

In preclinical animal models its potential has been shown in diagnosing and staging a variety of lung diseases (COPD, fibrosis, inflammation, tumors etc.) but due to various technical challenges upscaling of the technology has proved to be difficult. Recently however it has been shown that dark-field imaging is also feasible by relatively minor modifications in existing state of the art clinical CT systems 1

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