Evaluation of a no-reference image quality metric for projection X-ray imaging using a 3D printed patient-specific phantom

Dimitri Buytaert, Yves Taeymans, Daniel De Wolf, Klaus Bacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Feasability of a no-reference image quality metric was assessed on patient-like images using a patient-specific phantom simulating a frame of a coronary angiogram. Methods: One background and one contrast-filled frame of a coronary angiogram, acquired using a clinical imaging protocol, were selected from a Philips Integris Allura FD (Philips Healthcare, Best, The Netherlands). The background frame's pixels were extruded to a thickness proportional to their grey value. One phantom was 3D printed using composite 80% bronze filament (max. thickness of 5.1 mm), the other was a custom PMMA cast (max thickness of 8.5 cm). A vessel mold was created from the contrast-filled frame and injected with a solution of 320 mg I/ml contrast fluid (75%), water and gelatin. Still X-ray frames of the vessel mold + background phantom + 16 cm PMMA were acquired at manually selected different exposure settings using a Philips Azurion (Philips Healthcare, Best, The Netherlands) in User Quality Control Mode and were exported as RAW images. The signal-difference-to-noise-ratio-squared (SDNR2) and a spatial-domain-equivalent of the noise equivalent quanta (NEQSDE) were calculated. The Spearman's correlation of the latter parameters with a no-reference perceptual image quality metric (NIQE) was investigated. Results: The bronze phantom showed better resemblance to the original patient frame selected from a coronary angiogram of an actual patient, with better contrast and less blur than the PMMA phantom. Both phantoms were imaged using a comparable imaging protocol to the one used to acquire the original frame. The bronze phantom was hence used together with the vessel mold for image quality measurements on the 165 still phantom frames. A strong correlation was noted between NEQSDE and NIQE (SROCC = –0.99, p < 0.0005) and between SDNR2 and NIQE (SROCC = –0.97, p < 0.0005). Conclusion: Using a cost-effective and easy to realize patient-specific phantom we were able to generate patient-like X-ray frames. NIQE as a no-reference image quality model has the potential to predict physical image quality from patient images.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalPhysica Medica
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


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