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Willer, Konstantin; Fingerle, Alexander A.; Gromann, Lukas B.; De Marco, Fabio; Herzen, Julia; Achterhold, Klaus; Gleich, Bernhard; Muenzel, Daniela; Scherer, Kai; Renz, Martin; Renger, Bernhard; Kopp, Felix; Kriner, Fabian; Fischer, Florian; Braun, Christian; Auweter, Sigrid; Hellbach, Katharina; Reiser, Maximilian F.; Schröter, Tobias; Mohr, Jürgen; Yaroshenko, Andre; Maack, Hanns-Ingo; Pralow, Thomas; Heijden, Hendrik van der; Proksa, Roland; Koehler, Thomas; Wieberneit, Nataly; Rindt, Karsten; Rummeny, Ernst J.; Pfeiffer, Franz; Noel, Peter B. (2018): X-ray dark-field imaging of the human lung-A feasibility study on a deceased body.
In: PLOS One 13(9), e0204565


Disorders of the lungs such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are a major cause of chronic morbidity and mortality and the third leading cause of death in the world. The absence of sensitive diagnostic tests for early disease stages of COPD results in under-diagnosis of this treatable disease in an estimated 60-85% of the patients. In recent years a grating-based approach to X-ray dark-field contrast imaging has shown to be very sensitive for the detection and quantification of pulmonary emphysema in small animal models. However, translation of this technique to imaging systems suitable for humans remains challenging and has not yet been reported. In this manuscript, we present the first X-ray dark-field images of in-situ human lungs in a deceased body, demonstrating the feasibility of X-ray dark-field chest radiography on a human scale. Results were correlated with findings of computed tomography imaging and autopsy. The performance of the experimental radiography setup allows acquisition of multi-contrast chest X-ray images within clinical boundary conditions, including radiation dose. Upcoming clinical studies will have to demonstrate that this technology has the potential to improve early diagnosis of COPD and pulmonary diseases in general.