Digital radiography of the chest: detector techniques and performance parameters

C. Schaefer-Prokop, M. Uffmann, E. Eisenhuber and M. Prokop

Journal of Thoracic Imaging 2003;18(3):124-137

PMID

Abstract

Substantial advances in detector technology characterize digital chest radiography. This article compares the various systems from a radiologist's point of view. Computed radiography (CR) is a well-established system that is robust, has good reproducibility, and is relatively inexpensive. Image quality has been continuously improved in recent years while the physical size of the readout units has been reduced and the throughput increased. CR is the only digital system that can be used for bedside chest radiographs. Improved detector properties and dual reading have made it a dose-efficient system. Although now widely available, a 4K image matrix does not appear to offer a general diagnostic improvement for imaging the chest. New developments with respect to detector composition and readout process can be expected in the future. Direct radiography (DR) is the common name for different technologies that are characterized by a direct readout matrix that covers the whole exposure area. Conversion of x-ray intensity into electric signals can either be direct (selenium-based systems) or indirect (scintillator/photodiode systems). Advantages of DR systems are a high image quality and the potential for dose reduction. The role of selenium radiography (Thoravision) has decreased after the advent of DR systems although this dedicated chest unit offers high image quality at 400 speed acquisition dose. Especially in a PACS environment, CR and DR systems will increasingly substitute for conventional radiography with advantages for CR for bedside chest radiographs and for DR for high-end chest stands.