Grid cutoff

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 29 Mar 2020

Grid cutoff is an unwanted absorption of x-rays via an x-ray grid, observed when a grid is employed incorrectly, most often seen with parallel grids. The term cutoff stems from the phenomenon in which the primary x-ray beam is 'cut off' by grid lines, leading to an overall decrease in optical density or a decrease in radiographic exposure (more opaque). The mechanism in which grid cutoff occurs differs based on the grid used. 

Most commonly observed grid cutoff, most prominent at a short source to image receptor distance (SID), due to the divergent beam geometry, a small SID will lead to undesired absorption of the primary x-ray beam via the grid lines. Taking on the appearance of an overall decrease in optical density or variable optical density across the image (one side appearing less dense than the other). 

The distance in which this occurs can be calculated using:

  • distance to grid cutoff = SID / grid ratio

A crossed grid is two parallel grids running perpendicular to reduce scatter in both directions; they are proven to clean up scatter radiation more effectively than parallel grids. However, due to beam geometry, the primary beam must be centered on the center of the grid, at the same angle as the crossed grid. Any deviation can cause significant grid cutoff, creating a decrease in primary beam reaching the detector often unilaterally, with the potential to simulate pathology.

A sound method in identifying cutoff is to compare the bony detail each side of the image, images with grid cutoff, for example, an AP erect chest will have a notable difference in bony detail of the shoulder girdles. 

The problem of grid cutoff is almost exclusive to stationary grids, most images performed in table or upright stands utilize oscillating grids, at fixed points. 

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: grid cutoff
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  • Case 2: cutoff due to an upside down grid
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