The piecewise-linear dynamic attenuator reduces the impact of count rate loss with photon-counting detectors

Scott S. Hsieh, Norbert J. Pelc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Photon counting x-ray detectors (PCXDs) offer several advantages compared to standard energy-integrating x-ray detectors, but also face significant challenges. One key challenge is the high count rates required in CT. At high count rates, PCXDs exhibit count rate loss and show reduced detective quantum efficiency in signal-rich (or high flux) measurements. In order to reduce count rate requirements, a dynamic beam-shaping filter can be used to redistribute flux incident on the patient. We study the piecewise-linear attenuator in conjunction with PCXDs without energy discrimination capabilities. We examined three detector models: the classic nonparalyzable and paralyzable detector models, and a 'hybrid' detector model which is a weighted average of the two which approximates an existing, real detector (Taguchi et al 2011 Med. Phys. 38 1089-102 ). We derive analytic expressions for the variance of the CT measurements for these detectors. These expressions are used with raw data estimated from DICOM image files of an abdomen and a thorax to estimate variance in reconstructed images for both the dynamic attenuator and a static beam-shaping ('bowtie') filter. By redistributing flux, the dynamic attenuator reduces dose by 40% without increasing peak variance for the ideal detector. For non-ideal PCXDs, the impact of count rate loss is also reduced. The nonparalyzable detector shows little impact from count rate loss, but with the paralyzable model, count rate loss leads to noise streaks that can be controlled with the dynamic attenuator. With the hybrid model, the characteristic count rates required before noise streaks dominate the reconstruction are reduced by a factor of 2 to 3. We conclude that the piecewise-linear attenuator can reduce the count rate requirements of the PCXD in addition to improving dose efficiency. The magnitude of this reduction depends on the detector, with paralyzable detectors showing much greater benefit than nonparalyzable detectors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2829-2847
Number of pages19
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 7 2014


  • dose reduction
  • dynamic bowtie
  • photon counting detectors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'The piecewise-linear dynamic attenuator reduces the impact of count rate loss with photon-counting detectors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this