Meinel, Felix G.; Schwab, Felix; Schleede, Simone; Bech, Martin; Herzen, Julia; Achterhold, Klaus; Auweter, Sigrid; Bamberg, Fabian; Yildirim, Ali Ö.; Bohla, Alexander; Eickelberg, Oliver; Loewen, Rod; Gifford, Martin; Ruth, Ronald; Reiser, Maximilian F.; Pfeiffer, Franz; Nikolaou, Konstantin (2013): Diagnosing and mapping pulmonary emphysema on X-ray projection images. Incremental value of grating-based X-ray dark-field imaging.
In: PLOS ONE 8(3), e59526




To assess whether grating-based X-ray dark-field imaging can increase the sensitivity of X-ray projection images in the diagnosis of pulmonary emphysema and allow for a more accurate assessment of emphysema distribution. Lungs from three mice with pulmonary emphysema and three healthy mice were imaged ex vivo using a laser-driven compact synchrotron X-ray source. Median signal intensities of transmission (T), dark-field (V) and a combined parameter (normalized scatter) were compared between emphysema and control group. To determine the diagnostic value of each parameter in differentiating between healthy and emphysematous lung tissue, a receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed both on a per-pixel and a per-individual basis. Parametric maps of emphysema distribution were generated using transmission, dark-field and normalized scatter signal and correlated with histopathology. Transmission values relative to water were higher for emphysematous lungs than for control lungs (1.11 vs. 1.06, p<0.001). There was no difference in median dark-field signal intensities between both groups (0.66 vs. 0.66). Median normalized scatter was significantly lower in the emphysematous lungs compared to controls (4.9 vs. 10.8, p<0.001), and was the best parameter for differentiation of healthy vs. emphysematous lung tissue. In a per-pixel analysis, the area under the ROC curve (AUC) for the normalized scatter value was significantly higher than for transmission (0.86 vs. 0.78, p<0.001) and dark-field value (0.86 vs. 0.52, p<0.001) alone. Normalized scatter showed very high sensitivity for a wide range of specificity values (94% sensitivity at 75% specificity). Using the normalized scatter signal to display the regional distribution of emphysema provides color-coded parametric maps, which show the best correlation with histopathology. In a murine model, the complementary information provided by X-ray transmission and dark-field images adds incremental diagnostic value in detecting pulmonary emphysema and visualizing its regional distribution as compared to conventional X-ray projections.