K-edge subtraction imaging for iodine and calcium separation at a compact synchrotron x-ray source

Stephanie Kulpe, Martin Dierolf, Eva Maria Braig, Benedikt Günther, Klaus Achterhold, Bernhard Gleich, Julia Herzen, Ernst Rummeny, Franz Pfeiffer, Daniela Pfeiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: About one third of all deaths worldwide can be traced to some form of cardiovascular disease. The gold standard for the diagnosis and interventional treatment of blood vessels is digital subtraction angiography (DSA). An alternative to DSA is K-edge subtraction (KES) imaging, which has been shown to be advantageous for moving organs and for eliminating image artifacts caused by patient movement. As highly brilliant, monochromatic x-rays are required for this method, it has been limited to synchrotron facilities so far, restraining the applicability in the clinical routine. Over the past decades, compact synchrotron x-ray sources based on inverse Compton scattering have been evolving; these provide x-rays with sufficient brilliance and meet spatial and financial requirements for laboratory settings or university hospitals. Approach: We demonstrate a proof-of-principle KES imaging experiment using the Munich Compact Light Source (MuCLS), the first user-dedicated installation of a compact synchrotron x-ray source worldwide. A series of experiments were performed both on a phantom and an excised human carotid to demonstrate the ability of the proposed KES technique to separate the iodine contrast agent and calcifications. Results: It is shown that the proposed filter-based KES method allows for the iodine-contrast agent and calcium to be clearly separated, thereby providing x-ray images only showing one of the two materials. Conclusions: The results show that the quasimonochromatic spectrum of the MuCLS enables filter-based KES imaging and can become an important tool in preclinical research and possible future clinical diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023504
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Angiography
  • Biomedical imaging
  • Brilliant x-ray source
  • Iodine
  • K-edge subtraction imaging
  • Radiography


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