X-ray imaging physics for nuclear medicine technologists. Part 1: Basic principles of x-ray production

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47 Scopus citations


The purpose is to review in a 4-part series: (i) the basic principles of x-ray production, (ii) x-ray interactions and data capture/conversion, (iii) acquisition/creation of the CT image, and (iv) operational details of a modern multislice CT scanner integrated with a PET scanner. Advances in PET technology have lead to widespread applications in diagnostic imaging and oncologic staging of disease. Combined PET/CT scanners provide the high-resolution anatomic imaging capability of CT with the metabolic and physiologic information by PET, to offer a significant increase in information content useful for the diagnostician and radiation oncologist, neurosurgeon, or other physician needing both anatomic detail and knowledge of disease extent. Nuclear medicine technologists at the forefront of PET should therefore have a good understanding of x-ray imaging physics and basic CT scanner operation, as covered by this 4-part series. After reading the first article on x-ray production, the nuclear medicine technologist will be familiar with (a) the physical characteristics of x-rays relative to other electromagnetic radiations, including γ-rays in terms of energy, wavelength, and frequency; (b) methods of x-ray production and the characteristics of the output x-ray spectrum; (c) components necessary to produce x-rays, including the x-ray tube/x-ray generator and the parameters that control x-ray quality (energy) and quantity; (d) x-ray production limitations caused by heating and the impact on image acquisition and clinical throughput; and (e) a glossary of terms to assist in the understanding of this information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • CT
  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Medical imaging
  • PET/CT
  • X-ray generator
  • X-ray production
  • X-ray tube

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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