Location and direction dependence in the 3D MTF for a high-resolution CT system

Andrew M. Hernandez, Pengwei Wu, Mahadevappa Mahesh, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, John M. Boone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to quantify location and direction-dependent variations in the 3D modulation transfer function (MTF) of a high-resolution CT scanner with selectable focal spot sizes and resolution modes. Methods: The Aquilion Precision CT scanner (Canon Medical Systems) has selectable 0.25 mm or 0.5 mm detectors (by binning) in both the axial (x-y) and detector array width (z) directions. For the x-y and z orientations, detectors are configured (x–y) = 0.5 mm/(z) = 0.5 mm for normal resolution (NR), 0.25/0.5 mm for high resolution (HR), and 0.25/0.25 mm for super high resolution (SHR). Six focal spots (FS1-FS6) range in size from 0.4 (x-y) × 0.5 mm (z) for FS1 to 1.6 × 1.4 mm for FS6. Phantoms fabricated from spherical objects were positioned at radial distances of 0, 4.0, 7.5, 11.0, 14.5, and 18.5 cm. Axial and helical acquisitions were utilized and reconstructed using filtered back projection with the FC18 “Body,” FC30 “Bone,” and FC81 “Bone Sharp” kernels. The reconstructions were used to measure a 1D slice of the 3D MTF by oversampling the 3D ESF in the axial plane [MTF(fr); φ = 0°)], 45° out of the axial plane [MTF(fr); φ = 45°)], in the longitudinal direction [MTF(fr); φ = 80°)], and along the radial and azimuthal directions within the axial plane. Results: The MTF(fr); φ = 45°) drops to 10% (f10) at 1.20, 1.45, and 2.06 mm−1 for NR, HR, and SHR, respectively, for a helical acquisition with FS1, FC30, and r = 4 cm from the isocenter. The MTF(fr); φ = 45°) includes contributions of both the axial-plane MTF (f10 = 1.10, 2.04, and 2.01 mm−1) and the longitudinal MTF (f10 = 1.17, 1.18, and 1.82 mm−1) for the NR, HR, and SHR modes, respectively. For SHR, the axial scan mode showed a 15–25% improvement over helical mode in the longitudinal resolution. Helical pitch, ranging from 0.569 to 1.381, did not appreciably affect the 3D resolution (<2%). The radial MTFs across the axial field of view (FOV) showed dependencies on the focal spot length in z; for example, for SHR with FS2 (0.6 × 0.6 mm), f10 at r = 11 cm was within 17% of the value at r = 4 cm, but for SHR with FS3 (0.6 × 1.3), the reduction in f10 was 46% from 4 to 11 cm from the isocenter. The azimuthal MTF also decreased as r increased but less so for longer gantry rotation times and smaller focal spot dimensions in the axial plane. The longitudinal MTF was minimally affected (<11%) by position in the FOV and was principally affected by the focal spot length in the z-dimension. Conclusions: The 3D MTF was measured throughout the FOV of a high-resolution CT scanner, quantifying the advantages of different resolution modes and focal spot sizes on the axial-plane and longitudinal MTF. Reconstruction kernels were shown to impact axial-plane resolution, imparting non-isotropic 3D resolution characteristics. Focal spot size (both in x-y and in z) and gantry rotation time play important roles in preserving the high-resolution characteristics throughout the field of view for this new high-resolution CT scanner technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMedical Physics
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • high-resolution CT
  • image quality
  • modulation transfer function
  • multi-detector CT
  • spatial resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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