Purpose: This report describes upgrades and performance characterization of an experimental benchtop cone-beam x-ray fluorescence computed tomography (XFCT) system capable of determining the spatial distribution and concentration of metal probes such as gold nanoparticles (GNPs). Specifically, a high-power (~3 kW) industrial x-ray source and transmission CT capability were deployed in the same platform under the cone-beam geometry. Methods: All components of the system are described in detail, including the x-ray source, imaging stage, cadmium-telluride detector for XFCT, and flat-panel detector for transmission CT imaging. The general data acquisition scheme for XFCT and transmission CT is also explicated. The detection limit of the system was determined using calibration samples containing water and GNPs at various concentrations. Samples were then embedded in a small-animal-sized phantom and imaged with XFCT and CT. The reconstructed XFCT and CT images were compared and analyzed using the contrast-to-noise ratio for each GNP-containing region of interest. Also, measurements of the incident beam spectra used for XFCT and CT imaging were made and the corresponding x-ray dose rates were estimated, along with the imaging dose. Results: The present configuration produced a GNP detection limit of 0.03 wt. % with the delivery of an effective dose of 1.87 cGy per projection. XFCT scan of an animal-sized phantom containing low concentrations (down to 0.03 wt. %) of GNP-loaded inserts can be performed within an hour. Conclusions: The high performance of the system combined with the ability to perform transmission CT in tandem with XFCT suggests that the currently developed benchtop cone-beam XFCT/CT system, in conjunction with GNPs, can be used for routine multimodal preclinical imaging tasks with less stringent dose constraints such as ex vivo imaging. With further effort to minimize XFCT imaging dose as discussed in this report, it may also be used for in vivo imaging.
- gold nanoparticles
- multimodal imaging
- preclinical imaging
- x-ray fluorescence computed tomography