Dark-field radiography

Last revised by Joachim Feger on 14 Apr 2024

Dark-field radiography is an emerging medical imaging technology. While conventional x-ray imaging is based on the differential attenuation of various organs and tissues, dark-field radiography utilizes ultra-small angle x-ray scattering similar to dark-field computed tomography.

To date, dark-field radiography has not yet been widely used in clinical practice and is mostly used in inanimate objects, dead bodies and animals 1,4.

In humans, dark-field imaging has received the most attention for the lungs, due to the large number of air and soft tissue interfaces, and it shows promise in evaluating several pulmonary conditions, such as emphysema, fibrosis, or pneumonia 1,3,4.

Exploratory studies have demonstrated that dark-field radiography is capable of aiding the diagnosis of emphysema in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 1.

In addition, dark-field radiography systems allow the reconstruction of conventional attenuation x-ray images of comparable diagnostic quality 2.

Dark-field radiography provides contrast via the variations of small-angle scattering of x-rays within the investigated tissue other than conventional radiography 1,3. Thus dark-field radiography may better reflect some of the structural properties of the examined tissue 1. A strong dark-field contrast is expected in tissues where multiple hard tissue interfaces exist, which can produce repeated refraction and scattering of x-ray photons.

Dark-field radiography was first introduced by a group of scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland around the German physicist Franz Pfeiffer in 2008 5.

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