Skeletal applications for flat-panel versus storage-phosphor radiography: effect of exposure on detection of low-contrast details

M. Uffmann, C. Schaefer-Prokop, U. Neitzel, M. Weber, C.J. Herold and M. Prokop

Radiology 2004;231(2):506-514



To compare exposure requirements for similar detection performance with flat-panel detectors and the most recent generation of storage-phosphor plates in the simulated scatter of typical skeletal radiographic examinations.A contrast-detail test object was covered with varying thicknesses of acrylic to simulate skeletal exposure conditions in the wrist, knee, and pelvis. Three series were obtained with increasing thicknesses of a simulated soft-tissue layer (5, 10, and 20 cm) and increasing tube voltage (50, 70, and 90 kVp). A fourth series was obtained with exposure conditions adapted to the phantom instructions (75 kVp). Images were acquired with a flat-panel detector (cesium iodide scintillator) and storage-phosphor plates at five exposure levels (speed class range, 100-1,600). Five readers evaluated 84 images to determine the threshold contrast of 12 lesion diameters (range, 0.25-11.1 mm). Statistical significance of differences between the two digital systems was assessed with two-way analysis of variance.A linear relationship was found between the number of detected lesions and the logarithm of exposure (R(2) > 0.98 for all series). On average, the flat-panel system required 45% less exposure than did the phosphor plates when 20-cm-thick acrylic was superimposed on the test object. Differences in exposure requirements were smaller with decreasing thicknesses of simulated soft-tissue layers and lower tube voltages (39% at 10 cm and 70 kVp, and 17% at 5 cm and 50 kVp). All differences were statistically significant.Flat-panel radiography provides improved contrast detectability and a potential for exposure reduction compared with those with storage-phosphor radiography. The best performance was achieved with conditions comparable to those for radiography of the trunk and lowest for conditions that simulate radiography of the extremities.