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Designing a Low Cost Digital Imaging System for Medical Physics Education


C Brown

C Brown*, J Polf, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK

MO-F-134-3 Monday 4:30PM - 6:00PM Room: 134

Purpose:
Due to the increasing demand for trained Medical Physicists and increased interest in Medical Physics by students, many academic physics departments have begun to offer Medical Physics courses as well as graduate programs. To institute a new program, it helps to have feasible equipment that will provide hands on experience and teaching of the concepts central to Medical Physics. For example, clinical digital radiography systems are typically used for teaching the basic concepts of digital imaging. However, such systems can cost >$100,000, posing a financial barrier, and making alternatives to commercial systems desirable for most academic departments. The purpose of this work was to develop a low cost digital radiography system for teaching purposes using used or surplus materials.

Methods and Materials:
We first identified five essential components of a radiography system, namely, the x-ray source, the detector, data acquisition, image display and processing, and radiation shielding/protection. We then acquired used or surplus items for each component. A lead-lined wood box was built and each component installed to produce the imaging system. We then performed several basic commissioning tests to characterize the contrast, spatial resolution and noise of the acquired x-ray images.

Results:
Our results show that the system is capable of producing digital x-ray images with optimal spatial resolution and noise levels of 0.77mm and 4%, respectively. Characteristic contrast curves show adequate contrast is produced in the image over a wide range of material thicknesses and densities.

Conclusion:
These results show that an educational digital radiography system can be produced from cheap (or free) used/surplus items, thus fitting within the budgets of most academic physics departments. The design and construction of such a system has shown to be a great exercise for students learning the basics concepts of digital medical imaging systems.


Funding Support, Disclosures, and Conflict of Interest: Department of Health and Human Services, Grant# D1ARH20090

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