(19)
(11)EP 1 785 092 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
21.09.2011 Bulletin 2011/38

(21)Application number: 06023353.3

(22)Date of filing:  09.11.2006
(51)Int. Cl.: 
A61B 6/00  (2006.01)

(54)

X-ray angiography apparatus

Röntgenangiographiegerät

Appareil d'angiographie par rayons X


(84)Designated Contracting States:
DE NL

(30)Priority: 10.11.2005 JP 2005326336

(43)Date of publication of application:
16.05.2007 Bulletin 2007/20

(73)Proprietors:
  • Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba
    Tokyo 105-8001 (JP)
  • Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation
    Otawara-shi, Tochigi-ken 324-8550 (JP)

(72)Inventor:
  • Ohishi, Satoru
    Otawara-shi Tochigi 324-8550 (JP)

(74)Representative: Kramer - Barske - Schmidtchen 
Landsberger Strasse 300
80687 München
80687 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A-2005/110231
JP-A- 2003 334 187
US-A1- 2006 120 507
WO-A2-03/041583
US-A1- 2005 046 644
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The present invention relates to an X-ray angiography apparatus for generating a three-dimensional blood vessel image from images obtained before and after contrast medium injection.

    [0002] The blood vessels in the head run in a very complicated manner. In a case of an aneurysm, in particular, an operator often performs 3D-DSA (three-dimensional digital subtraction angiography) to determine an optimal observation angle which allows to check the neck of the aneurysm or comprehend the relationship between the neck and the dome or between the aneurysm and the parent vessel/capillary vessels near the aneurysm.

    [0003] In 3D-DSA, the operator acquires a plurality of images in subtraction imaging directions before and after contrast medium injection by repeatedly performing acquisition while rotating an X-ray tube around the patient. In general, a two-dimensional projection image which is acquired before contrast medium injection such that the blood vessels are not contrasted is called a mask image, and a two-dimensional projection image which is acquired after contrast medium injection such that the blood vessels are contrasted is called a contrast image. Subtracting images before and after contrast medium injection upon aligning them in the same imaging directions makes it possible to mainly subtract a contrasted blood vessel portion. This method then generates a detailed three-dimensional blood vessel image by performing three-dimensional reconstruction processing for the extracted image of the blood vessel portion. This three-dimensional image is called a 3D-DSA image. 3D-DSA acquisition or rotational DSA, which is a basic technique thereof, is a technique of observing and reconstructing images upon subtracting images at the same angles. For this reason, mask images and contrast images are always acquired at the same angle sampling pitch.

    [0004] There has been proposed a method of improving the visibility of a soft tissue by acquiring many projection images, e.g., 400 to 500 frames, and reconstructing a three-dimensional image from the many projection images using an X-ray angiography apparatus. In order to acquire projection images of 400 frames or more, it is necessary to rotate the arm slowly under the limitation of the acquisition rate on the X-ray detector side.

    [0005] Rotating the arm slowly, however, will inevitably increase the amount of contrast medium used. At the time of diagnosis of disease in a blood vessel system, the operator performs imaging with a small number of projection images in clinical operation, inevitably resulting in a deterioration in the visibility of the soft tissue; refer to Jpn. Pat. Appln. KOKAI Publication No. 2004-171283.

    [0006] US 2005/0046644 A1 discloses X-ray angiography apparatuses according to the preamble of claim 1.

    [0007] It is an object of the present invention to generate a high-resolution three-dimensional image of a tissue together with a three-dimensional blood vessel image in an X-ray angiography apparatus which generates a three-dimensional blood vessel image from images before and after contrast medium injection.

    [0008] This is achieved by the present invention, as defined in claim 1. Further advantageous embodiments are defined in the sub-claims.

    [0009] The invention can be more fully understood from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

    FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing the arrangement of an X-ray angiography apparatus according to an embodiment;

    FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an X-ray imaging mechanism in FIG. 1;

    FIG. 3 is a flowchart showing a processing procedure in this embodiment;

    FIG. 4 is a view for supplementary explanation of a first imaging mode in imaging step S11 in FIG. 3;

    FIG. 5 is a view for supplementary explanation of a second imaging mode in imaging step S11 in FIG. 3;

    FIG. 6 is a flowchart showing a detailed processing procedure in three-dimensional non-blood vessel image reconstruction step S17 in FIG. 3;

    FIG. 7 is a graph showing an example of correction values held by a beam hardening correction unit in FIG. 1;

    FIG. 8 is a graph showing an example of correction values held by a scattered radiation correction unit in FIG. 1; and

    FIG. 9 is a view showing the arrangement of an X-ray computed tomographic apparatus according to a modification of this embodiment.



    [0010] An X-ray angiography apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention will be described below with reference to the views of the accompanying drawing.

    [0011] As shown in FIG. 1, the X-ray angiography apparatus includes an X-ray imaging mechanism 10. As shown in FIG. 2, the X-ray imaging mechanism 10 includes an X-ray tube 12 and an X-ray detector 14. The X-ray detector 14 comprises an image intensifier 15 and a TV camera 16. The X-ray detector 14 comprises a flat panel detector (FPD: flat X-ray detector) having semiconductor detection elements arranged in the form of a matrix. The X-ray tube 12 and the X-ray detector 14 are mounted on a C-arm 60 in directions to face each other. A subject P on a top 50 of a bed is placed between the X-ray tube 12 and the X-ray detector 14. A column 64 suspended from a ceiling base 63 supports the C-arm 60. The C-arm 60 can rotate about three orthogonal axes A, B, and C. A rotation driving unit 22 is housed in the column 64. The rotation driving unit 22 includes two drive sources for independently rotating the C-arm 60 in the directions indicated by arrows A and B.

    [0012] The X-ray angiography apparatus includes, in addition to the X-ray imaging mechanism 10, a system controller 20, a camera controller 21, a rotation controller 23, a first image memory 24, a second image memory 25, a sensitivity correction unit 26, a corresponding image selecting unit 19, a subtraction unit 27, a body thickness identifying unit 28, a scattered radiation correction unit 29, a beam hardening correction unit 30, a filtering unit 31 which performs high-frequency enhancement filtering, an affine transformation unit 32 which performs image enlargement/movement and the like, an image combining unit 33, a three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34, a three-dimensional image processing unit 35, a D/A conversion unit 36, and a display unit 37. The first image memory 24 is provided to store data concerning a plurality of mask images taken before contrast medium injection. The second image memory 25 is provided to store data concerning a plurality of contrast images taken after contrast medium injection. The corresponding image selecting unit 19 selects a mask image taken before contrast medium injection in a direction which coincides with or is nearest to the direction of each of a plurality of contrast images taken after contrast medium injection in subtraction imaging directions. The subtraction unit 27 generates a plurality of differential images at subtraction imaging angles by calculating differences (subtracting) between a plurality of contrast images and a plurality of mask images, selected by the corresponding image selecting unit 19, at the same or nearest angles. The three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34 reconstructs a three-dimensional blood vessel image on the basis of the plurality of differential images. The three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34 also reconstructs a three-dimensional image of a non-blood vessel portion having a bone and soft portion on the basis of the plurality of mask images. The body thickness identifying unit 28 identifies the thickness of a bone region and the thickness of a soft tissue region on an X-ray trajectory for each pixel of each mask image on the basis of the three-dimensional non-blood vessel image of the bone, soft tissue, and the like which is reconstructed by the three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34.

    [0013] The scattered radiation correction unit 29 performs scattered radiation correction for the original mask images on the basis of the thickness of the soft tissue or the thicknesses of the soft tissue and bone region. The beam hardening correction unit 30 performs beam hardening correction for the scatter-corrected mask images on the basis of the identified thickness of the soft tissue or the identified thicknesses of the soft tissue and bone region. The three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34 reconstructs a high-resolution three-dimensional non-blood vessel image on the basis of the plurality of mask images having undergone scattered radiation correction and beam hardening correction. The image combining unit 33 combines the three-dimensional blood vessel image generated by the three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34 with the three-dimensional non-blood vessel image. The combined three-dimensional image is configured to discriminate and manage the blood vessel image information and the non-blood vessel image information. The combined three-dimensional image is sent to the three-dimensional image processing unit 35 to generate a 2D combined image on axial planes for display by fusing axial non-blood vessel image with axial blood vessel image, or to generate a combined image of volume rendering blood vessel image and axial non-blood vessel image. The display unit 37 displays the combined image by itself or together with a slice image of the combined image through the D/A conversion unit 36. The operation of this embodiment will be described next with reference to FIG. 3. The C-arm 60 can rotate at high speed like a propeller by using the motor of the rotation driving unit 22. This makes it possible for the C-arm 60 to rotate around a subject through an angle of 180° or more in a short period of time.

    [0014] In imaging step S11, mask image data are acquired before the injection of a contrast medium. The system controller 20 determines, on the basis of a control signal from an injector (not shown), whether a contrast medium has been injected.

    [0015] As is illustrated in FIG. 4, the C-arm 60 rotates from the start position to the end position at a constant speed. The angle defined between the start position and the end position is, for example, 210°. While the C-arm 60 rotates, imaging is repeated at predetermined constant angle intervals. The camera controller 21 repeatedly reads out the data of mask images from the X-ray detector 14 in a predetermined period. Imaging conditions in this mask image imaging period are set such that the frame rate is 30 f/sec, the rotational speed of the C-arm 60 is 15°/sec, the angle sampling pitch of mask images is 0.5°, and the number of frames imaged is 420. The first image memory 24 stores the data of 420 mask images (frames) IM in association with the data of the respective imaging angles. The C-arm 60 returns to a reference position at high speed after the imaging of mask images.

    [0016] Note that this returning operation can be omitted. That is, the rotation of the C-arm 60 for the acquisition of contrast data may be in a direction reverse to that of the C-arm 60 for the acquisition of mask data.

    [0017] When a proper standby time has elapsed since the injection of the contrast medium, an acquisition step for contrast image data starts. The C-arm 60 rotates from the start position to the end position at a constant speed through the same angle, i.e., 210°, as that in the mask image imaging period. While the C-arm 60 rotates, imaging is repeated at predetermined constant angle intervals. The camera controller 21 repeatedly reads the data of contrast images from the X-ray detector 14 in a predetermined cycle. Imaging conditions in this contrast image imaging period are set such that the frame rate is 30 f/sec, the rotational speed of the C-arm 60 is 30°/sec, the angle sampling pitch(sampling angle pitch) of contrast images is 1°, and the number of frames imaged is 210. The second image memory 24 stores the data of 210 contrast images (frames) IC in association with the data of the respective imaging angles.

    [0018] As compared with the imaging conditions for mask image data, the imaging conditions for contrast image data are set such that the frame rate is equal and the rotational speed of the C-arm 60 is twice. This makes the angle sampling pitch of contrast images become twice that of mask images. In addition, since the same imaging range (210°) is set, the time (seven sec) required to take a predetermined number of contrast images becomes half the time (14 sec) required to take a predetermined number of mask images. Furthermore, the number of contrast images (frames) taken is 210, which is half the number (420) of mask images taken.

    [0019] Note that the operator can switch the imaging mode shown in FIG. 4 to the imaging mode shown in FIG. 5. In the imaging mode shown in FIG. 5, as compared with the imaging conditions in the mask image imaging step, the imaging conditions in the contrast image imaging step are set such that the rotational speed of the C-arm 60 is equal, and the frame rate of contrast images is 1/2 that of mask images. Consequently, as in the imaging mode shown in FIG. 4, the angle sampling pitch of contrast images is twice that of mask images, and the number of contrast images (frames) taken is 210, which is half the number (420) of mask images taken. The time (14 sec) required to take a predetermined number of contrast images becomes equal to the time (14 sec) required to take a predetermined number of mask images.

    [0020] After the imaging operation, the corresponding image selecting unit 19 selects 210 mask images (IMn), from the 420 mask images, each of which is equal in imaging angle to a corresponding one of the 210 contrast images (ICN) (S12). The 210 contrast images (ICN) and the selected 210 mask images (IMn) are subtracted from each other at the same imaging angles (S13). The three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34 reconstructs a three-dimensional image on the basis of the 210 differential images generated in step S13 (S14). This three-dimensional image is called a three-dimensional blood vessel image because it mainly represents a blood vessel form as a contrasted region, from which a mainly non-blood vessel region such as a non-contrasted bone or soft tissue is removed, thereby discriminating it from a three-dimensional non-blood vessel image which mainly represents a bone or soft tissue form to be described later.

    [0021] The filtered back projection method proposed by Feldkamp et al. will be exemplified as a reconstruction method. A proper convolution filter such as a Shepp & Logan or Ramachandran filter is applied to 210 DSA images. Performing back projection computation will obtain reconstruction data. In this case, a reconstruction region is defined as a cylinder inscribing an X-ray beam in all the directions of the X-ray tube 12. It is necessary to three-dimensionally discretize the inside of this cylinder with, for example, a length d of the central portion of a reconstruction region projected on the width of one detection element of the X-ray detector 14 and to obtain a reconstructed image formed by data at discrete points. This is an example of discretization intervals, which vary depending on apparatuses. Therefore, it basically suffices to use discretization intervals defined by the apparatus to be used.

    [0022] The reconstructed image is transferred to a three-dimensional image display unit and three-dimensionally displayed by a method such as volume rendering (S15).

    [0023] High-resolution three-dimensional non-blood vessel image generation and display processing in steps S16 to S18 is performed in parallel with or before or after this three-dimensional blood vessel image generation and display processing in steps S12 to S15. A three-dimensional non-blood vessel image is generated by using all the acquired 420 mask images (IMn). First of all, the sensitivity correction unit 26 performs sensitivity correction for the 420 mask images (IMn) (S16). Sensitivity correction processing is performed by subtracting, from the respective mask images (IMn) from projection images which are acquired in advance by imaging a homogeneous phantom, represent a spatial distribution of sensitivity within a detection surface associated with the X-ray detector 14, and are held in a storage unit in the sensitivity correction unit 26. Note that the 420 sensitivity-corrected mask images are represented by P(θ, i, j), where θ represents a rotational angle at the time of imaging, and (i, j) represents a two-dimensional position. A three-dimensional non-blood vessel image is reconstructed on the basis of the 420 sensitivity-corrected mask images P(θ, i, j) (S17). The reconstruction of this high-resolution three-dimensional non-blood vessel image uses beam hardening correction and scattered radiation correction.

    [0024] FIG. 6 shows a detailed processing procedure for the high-resolution three-dimensional non-blood vessel image reconstruction processing in step S17. First of all, the three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34 reconstructs a preliminary three-dimensional non-blood vessel image from all 420 sensitivity-corrected images or, for example, about 210 or 100 mask images P(θ, i, j) extracted therefrom at predetermined intervals of rotational angles (S17-1). This preliminary three-dimensional non-blood vessel image is an image which does not aim for the observation of the image itself for the purpose of interpretation but aims for body thickness identification to be described later. Therefore, it suffices to reconstruct such an image by using some of all the 420 images or reduce the reconstruction matrix for the reconstruction processing in step S17-6 to be described later.

    [0025] The body thickness identifying unit 28 then performs threshold processing for the preliminary three-dimensional non-blood vessel image to separate a bone portion, a soft tissue portion, and a background region, and calculates a thickness B(θ, i, j) of the bone portion and a thickness T(θ, i, j) of the soft tissue on an X-ray trajectory for each mask image and for each pixel of each mask image (S17-2).

    [0026] Subsequently, the scattered radiation correction unit 29 receives the mask image P(θ, i, j) together with the calculated thickness data B(θ, i, j) and T(θ, i, j) and performs scattered radiation correction for them (S17-3). The scattered radiation correction unit 29 performs scattered radiation correction for a pixel value for each mask image and for each pixel of each mask image by referring to the two-dimensional correction table by using the thicknesses of the bone and soft tissue.


    where PC(θ, i, j) represents a mask image subjected to scattered radiation correction, and S(B, T) represents a scattered radiation correction coefficient (1 - γ) determined by a scattered radiation content γ. The thickness B of the bone portion and the thickness T of the soft tissue determine this coefficient (assuming that the thicknesses of the bone in a peripheral portion and soft tissue are almost constant). This correction table is experimentally obtained and held in the storage unit of the scattered radiation correction unit 29. FIG. 7 exemplifies correspondence between the thickness T of the soft tissue and the correction value S for each thickness B of the bone portion (FIG. 7 exemplifies three kinds of thicknesses, i.e., B0 (bone thickness of 0), B1 (bone thickness of 1 cm), and B2 (bone thickness of 2 cm)). The discrete values of this graph are held in the form of a correction table. The correction table is configured to receive the thickness B of the bone portion and the thickness T of the soft tissue and output the scattered radiation correction coefficient S. In practice, the scattered radiation correction coefficient S is calculated by interpolation from a plurality of correction coefficient candidates approximating to the calculated thicknesses B and T of the bone portion and soft tissue.

    [0027] The thickness data B(θ, i, j) and T(θ, i, j) and scatter corrected mask image Pc(θ, i, j) are then sent to the beam hardening correction unit 30. First of all, the beam hardening correction unit 30 corrects a pixel value for each mask image and for each pixel of each mask image as follows by referring to a two-dimensional correction table on the basis of the calculation results (S17-4).


    where Pa(θ, i, j) is a beam hardening and scatter corrected mask image, and C(B, T) is a correction value corresponding to the thickness of the bone portion and the thickness of the soft tissue. B(θ, i, j) and T(θ, i, j) respectively represent the thicknesses of the bone and soft tissue, and a correction value is determined for each of these thicknesses. This correction table is also experimentally obtained in advance and held in the storage unit of the beam hardening correction unit 30. FIG. 8 exemplifies the correspondence between the thickness T of the soft tissue and the correction value C for each thickness B of the bone portion (FIG. 8 exemplifies three kinds of thicknesses, i.e., B0 (bone thickness of 0), B1 (bone thickness of 1 cm), and B2 (bone thickness of 2 cm)). The discrete values of this graph are held in the form of a correction table. The correction table is configured to receive the thickness B of the bone portion and the thickness T of the soft tissue and output the correction value C. In practice, a correction value is calculated by interpolation from a plurality of correction value candidates approximating to the calculated thicknesses B and T of the bone portion and soft tissue. Note that this embodiment has exemplified the beam hardening correction method and scattered radiation correction method using reconstructed images. However, the present invention is not limited to this, and may use a method of correcting one or both of the above values from only projection data. Such a method has the merit of shortening the calculation time because there is no need to reconstruct a non-blood vessel image once. Although this method generally performs correction assuming that an absorbing material which contributes to projection data is a soft tissue, the method has a demerit that it cannot properly perform correction for a portion, e.g., a head, to which a bone greatly contributes.

    [0028] The three-dimensional reconstruction unit 34 reconstructs a high-resolution three-dimensional non-blood vessel image on the basis of the 420 mask images Pa(θ, i, j) having undergone beam hardening correction and scattered radiation correction (S17-5).

    [0029] The high-resolution three-dimensional non-blood vessel image is sent to the ring artifact correcting unit 38, and then ring-artifacts are removed with well-known technique as one of CT's correction methods (S17-6).

    [0030] The ring-artifacts free high-resolution three-dimensional non-blood vessel image is transferred to the image combining unit 33. Note that the transferred image has additional information explicitly expressing that the image is a target image for image combining operation. If, therefore, the transferred information has this additional information, the image combining unit 33 combines the three-dimensional non-blood vessel image reconstructed in step S17 with the three-dimensional blood vessel image reconstructed in step S14 (S19). The three-dimensional image processing unit 35 forms the combined image into a two-dimensional image by a method like volume rendering (S20). At the same time, the display unit 37 displays a slice image (e.g., an axial, coronal, or saggital image) of the combined three-dimensional image (S20). In combining and displaying the three-dimensional non-blood vessel image and the three-dimensional blood vessel image, the display unit 37 displays them while changing colors displaying different volumes and making the positional relationship between the non-blood vessel system and the blood vessels be easily comprehended. At the same time, the display unit 37 separately displays them as the operator presses a switch. The switch allows to switch between three modes, namely a combined display mode, blood vessel display mode, and non-blood vessel display mode. Such switches independently exist as a switch for three-dimensional image processing and a switch for cross-sectional images. Sliders for controlling the assignment of weights to a blood vessel image and a non-blood vessel image at the time of combined display operation independently exist as a switch for three-dimensional image processing and a switch for cross-sectional images. When the slider is located at the center position, the display unit 37 displays both a blood vessel image and a non-blood vessel image. As the slider moves to the left, the weight assigned to the non-blood vessel portion changes from 1 to 0, and the display of the non-blood vessel portion gradually fades. In contrast, as the slider moves to the right, the weight assigned to the blood vessel portion changes from 1 to 0, and the display of the blood vessel portion gradually fades. Note that it is possible to independently change the display conditions (color, optical parameters, window level/window width, and the like) of each volume. In addition, it is possible to perform processing such as cutting for each volume separately.

    [0031] This apparatus acquires contrast images at a coarse angle sampling pitch in a contrast image acquisition period, and acquires mask images at a fine angle sampling pitch in a mask image acquisition period. The apparatus separately performs two types of reconstruction processing using these two types of images. One type of reconstruction processing is for non-blood vessel images using only mask images. The other type of reconstruction processing is for blood vessel images based on DSA using mask and contrast images. This makes it possible to observe a blood vessel structure and acquire a high-resolution non-blood vessel image, thus improving the visibility of a soft tissue. The conventional method of improving the visibility of a soft tissue is a method of simultaneously visualizing blood vessel information, a soft tissue, and a bone tissue, and hence receives the great influences of changes in the flow rate of a contrast medium due to the pumping function of the heart and artifacts originating from the injection timing of a contrast medium. In contrast, the present invention separately reconstruct blood vessel information and non-blood vessel information, and hence the non-blood vessel information is free from the influence of artifacts originating from blood vessels. This improves the image quality of both a blood vessel portion and a non-blood vessel portion as compared with the conventional method. In addition, in the current situation where the image reading rate of the detector is considerably limited, the conventional method requires a long period of time for imaging to finely visualize non-blood vessel information. In practice, making a contrast medium flow for such a long period of time imposes a heavy burden on the patient, and results in huge artifacts due to contrast medium. It is therefore necessary to acquire blood vessel information in a short period of time in general. This makes it impossible to acquire such a long period of time in practical, and to visualize non-blood vessel information with high accuracy. In contrast, at the time of imaging, the present invention acquires images slowly in a long period of time when performing non-blood vessel information imaging and also acquires images quickly in a short period of time when performing blood vessel information imaging. This makes it possible to acquire high-resolution non-blood vessel images while observing a blood vessel structure. Finally, combining these images makes it possible to merge the two types of information.

    [0032] Note that a modification of this embodiment includes an application to an X-ray computed tomographic apparatus. As shown in FIG. 9, a gantry 100 includes an X-ray tube 101 and an X-ray detector 103. The X-ray tube 101 and the X-ray detector 103 are mounted on an annular frame 102 supported to be rotatable about a rotation axis RA. The X-ray detector 103 faces the X-ray tube 101. A gantry driving unit 107 continuously rotates the frame 102 at a high speed of, for example, 0.4 sec/revolution. A high voltage generator 109 applies a tube voltage to the X-ray tube 101 through a slip ring 108 and supplies a filament current to the X-ray tube 101. With this operation, the X-ray tube 101 generates X-rays. The X-ray detector 103 detects X-rays transmitted through the subject.

    [0033] A data acquisition circuit 104 generally called a DAS (Data Acquisition System) converts a signal output from the X-ray detector 103 for each channel, amplifies it, and converts it into a digital signal. This data (raw data) is sent to preprocessing device 106 housed in the external console of the gantry 100 through a non-contact data transmission unit 105, and undergoes correction processing such as sensitivity correction. A storage device 112 then stores the resultant data as so-called projection data immediately before reconstruction processing. The storage device 112 connects to a scan controller 110 through a data/control bus, together with a reconstruction device 114 which reconstructs a tomographic image from projection data and a display device 116 which display the tomographic image.

    [0034] The scan controller 110 changes some of scan conditions between a mask projection data acquisition period before contrast medium injection and a contrast projection data acquisition period after contrast medium injection. The rotational speeds of the X-ray tube 101 and X-ray detector (103) in a contrast projection data acquisition period are set to the same as those in a mask projection data acquisition period. The data reading cycle of the X-ray detector (103) in a contrast projection data acquisition period is, for example, double that in a mask projection data acquisition period. As a result, the angle sampling pitch (also called the view pitch) at which projection data are acquired in a contrast projection data acquisition period is increased by twice that in a mask projection data acquisition period. In other words, the number of sampling points (also called view points) at which projection data are acquired in a contrast projection data acquisition period is decreased to 1/2 that in a mask projection data acquisition period. Typically, X-rays are continuously generated in a contrast projection data acquisition period and a mask projection data acquisition period. It suffices, however, to generate pulse X-rays in a contrast projection data acquisition period and generate continuous X-rays in a mask projection data acquisition period.

    [0035] It is explicitly stated that all features disclosed in the description and/or the claims are intended to be disclosed separately and independently from each other for the purpose of original disclosure as well as for the purpose of restricting the claimed invention independent of the composition of the features in the embodiments and/or the claims. It is explicitly stated that all value ranges or indications of groups of entities disclose every possible intermediate value or intermediate entity for the purpose of original disclosure as well as for the purpose of restricting the claimed invention, in particular as limits of value ranges.


    Claims

    1. An X-ray angiography apparatus comprising:

    a C-arm (60);

    a support mechanism (10) arranged to rotatably support the C-arm;

    a rotation driving unit (22) adapted to drive rotation of the C-arm;

    an X-ray tube (12) which is mounted on one end of the C-arm;

    an X-ray detector (14) which is mounted on the other end of the C-arm in a direction to face the X-ray tube; and

    a control unit (20) adapted to control the X-ray detector to make a frame rate of the X-ray detector be the same in a mask image imaging period in which a plurality of mask images are taken and in a contrast image imaging period in which a plurality of contrast images are taken, characterized by the control unit (20) being adapted to control the rotation driving unit to make a rotational speed of the C-arm in the contrast image imaging period be higher than the rotational speed of the C-arm in the mask image imaging period.


     
    2. An apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising a reconstruction unit (34) for reconstructing a first three-dimensional image on the basis of differential images between the contrast images and the mask images, and for reconstructing a second three-dimensional image on the basis of the mask images.
     
    3. An apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising an image generating unit (34) for reconstructing a first three-dimensional image on the basis of said plurality of contrast images, reconstructing a second three-dimensional image on the basis of some of said plurality of mask images, reconstructing a third three-dimensional image on the basis of a remainder of said plurality of mask images, generating a fourth three-dimensional image by subtracting the second three-dimensional image from the first three-dimensional image, and generating a fifth three-dimensional image by adding the second three-dimensional image to the third three-dimensional image.
     
    4. An apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising an image generating unit (34) for reconstructing a first three-dimensional image on the basis of said plurality of contrast images, reconstructing a second three-dimensional image on the basis of some of said plurality of mask images, reconstructing a third three-dimensional image on the basis of said plurality of mask images, and generating a fourth three-dimensional image by subtracting the second three-dimensional image from the first three-dimensional image.
     
    5. An apparatus according to claim 2, further comprising an image generating unit (34) for generating a combined image of the first three-dimensional image and the second three-dimensional image, and generating a combined image of a slice originating from the first three-dimensional image and a slice originating from the second three-dimensional image.
     
    6. An apparatus according to claim 5, further comprising a display unit (37) for displaying the first three-dimensional image, the second three-dimensional image, and the combined image while switching the images in accordance with an operator instruction.
     
    7. An apparatus according to claim 5 or 6, wherein the image generating unit includes a function of changing a combining ratio between the first three-dimensional image and the second three-dimensional image.
     
    8. An apparatus, according to any of claims 5 to 7, wherein the image generating unit is adapted to display the first three-dimensional image and the second three-dimensional image in the combined image in different color systems.
     
    9. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the reconstruction unit includes correction means for performing at least one of beam hardening correction, scattered radiation correction, and ring artifact correction on the basis of the mask images, and means for reconstructing a third three-dimensional image on the basis of the mask images subjected to the correction.
     
    10. An apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the correction means includes means for reconstructing a fourth three-dimensional image by using data of some of the mask images, means for identifying a thickness of a bone region and a thickness of a soft tissue region from the fourth three-dimensional image by threshold processing, means for performing at least one of beam hardening correction and scattered radiation correction for the mask images on the basis of the identified thickness of the bone region and the identified thickness of the soft tissue region, and means for reconstructing a third three-dimensional image on the basis of the mask images subjected to the correction.
     
    11. An apparatus according to claim 10, wherein the fourth three-dimensional image is lower in resolution than the second three-dimensional image.
     
    12. An apparatus according to claim 10, wherein the means for reconstructing a fourth three-dimensional image by using data of some of the mask images comprises means for performing reconstruction by using either or both of some frames of mask images and images obtained by reducing the mask images.
     
    13. An apparatus according to any of claims 1-12, wherein an angle sampling pitch of the contrast images is not less than twice an angle sampling pitch of the mask images.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Röntgenangiographievorrichtung mit:

    einem C-Arm (60);

    einem Stützmechanismus (10), der zum drehbaren Stützen des C-Arms angeordnet ist;

    einer Rotation-Antriebseinheit (22), die zum Antreiben einer Rotation des C-Arms angepasst ist;

    einer Röntgenröhre (12), die an einem Ende des C-Arms angebracht ist;

    einem Röntgendetektor (14), der an dem anderen Ende des C-Arms in einer solchen Richtung angebracht ist, dass er der Röntgenröhre gegenübersteht; und

    einer Steuereinheit (20), die zum Steuern des Röntgendetektors derart angepasst ist, dass eine Rahmenfrequenz des Röntgendetektors sowohl in einer Maskenbild-Abbildungsperiode, innerhalb derer eine Vielzahl von Maskenbildern aufgenommen werden, als auch in einer Kontrastbild-Abbildungsperiode, innerhalb derer eine Vielzahl von Kontrastbildern aufgenommen werden, gleich ist,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

    die Steuereinheit (20) dazu angepasst ist, die Rotation-Antriebseinheit so zu steuern, dass die Rotationsgeschwindigkeit des C-Arms während der Kontrastbild-Abbildungsperiode höher ist als die Rotationsgeschwindigkeit des C-Arms während der Maskenbild-Abbildungsperiode.


     
    2. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, ferner mit einer Rekonstruktionseinheit (34) zum Rekonstruieren eines ersten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf Differenzbildern zwischen den Kontrastbildern und den Maskenbildern, und zum Rekonstruieren eines zweiten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf den Maskenbildern.
     
    3. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, ferner mit einer Bilderzeugungseinheit (34) zum Rekonstruieren eines ersten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf der besagten Vielzahl von Kontrastbildern, zum Rekonstruieren eines zweiten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf einigen der besagten Vielzahl von Maskenbildern, zum Rekonstruieren eines dritten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf einem Rest der besagten Vielzahl von Maskenbildern, zum Erzeugen eines vierten dreidimensional Bildes durch Subtrahieren des zweiten dreidimensionalen Bildes von dem ersten dreidimensionalen Bild, und zum Erzeugen eines fünften dreidimensionalen Bildes durch Addieren des zweiten dreidimensionalen Bildes zu dem dritten dreidimensionalen Bild.
     
    4. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, ferner mit einer Bilderzeugungseinheit (34) zum Rekonstruieren eines ersten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf der besagten Vielzahl von Kontrastbildern, zum Rekonstruieren eines zweiten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf einigen der besagten Vielzahl von Maskenbildern, zum Rekonstruieren eines dritten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf der besagten Vielzahl von Maskenbildern, und zum Erzeugen eines vierten dreidimensionalen Bildes durch Subtrahieren des zweiten dreidimensionalen Bildes von dem ersten dreidimensionalen Bild.
     
    5. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 2, ferner mit einer Bilderzeugungseinheit (34) zum Erzeugen eines kombinierten Bildes aus dem ersten dreidimensionalen Bild und dem zweiten dreidimensionalen Bild, und zum Erzeugen eines kombinierten Bildes von einem aus dem ersten dreidimensionalen Bild stammenden Schnitt und einem aus dem zweiten dreidimensionalen Bild stammenden Schnitt.
     
    6. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 5, ferner mit einer Anzeigeeinheit (37) zum Anzeigen des ersten dreidimensionalen Bildes, des zweiten dreidimensionalen Bildes und des kombinierten Bildes, wobei die Bilder in Übereinstimmung mit einer Benutzereingabe gewechselt werden.
     
    7. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 5 oder 6, bei der die Bilderzeugungseinheit eine Funktion zum Ändern eines Kombinationsverhältnisses zwischen dem ersten dreidimensionalen Bild und dem zweiten dreidimensionalen Bild enthält.
     
    8. Vorrichtung nach einem der Ansprüche 5 bis 7, bei der die Bilderzeugungseinheit angepasst ist zum Anzeigen des ersten dreidimensionalen Bildes und des zweiten dreidimensionalen Bildes in dem kombinierten Bild, unter Verwendung von unterschiedlichen Farbsystemen.
     
    9. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 2, bei der die Rekonstruktionseinheit folgendes enthält:

    Korrekturmittel zum Ausführen von Strahlhärten-Korrektur, Streustrahlungskorrektur, und/oder Ringartefakt-Korretur basierend auf den Maskenbildern, und

    Mittel zum Rekonstruieren eines dritten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf den Maskenbildern, die der Korrektur unterworfen wurden.


     
    10. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 9, bei der das Korrekturmittel enthält:

    Mittel zum Rekonstruieren eines vierten dreidimensionalen Bildes unter Verwendung von Daten von einigen der Maskenbilder,

    Mittel zum Identifizeren einer Stärke eines Knochenbereichs und einer Stärke eines Weichgewebebereichs aus dem vierten dreidimensionalen Bild mittels Schwellwert-Verarbeitung,

    Mittel zum Ausführen von Strahlhärten-Korrektur und/oder Streustrahlungskorrektur für die Maskenbilder basierend auf der identifizierten Stärke des Knochenbereichs und der identifizierten Stärke des Weichgewebebereichs , und

    Mittel zum Rekonstruieren eines dritten dreidimensionalen Bildes basierend auf den Maskenbildern, die der Korrektur unterworfen wurden.


     
    11. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 10, bei der das vierte dreidimensionale Bild von niedrigerer Auflösung ist als das zweite dreidimensionale Bild.
     
    12. Vorrichtung nach Anspruch 10, bei der das Mittel zum Rekonstruieren eines vierten dreidimensionalen Bildes, unter Verwendung von Daten von einigen der Maskenbilder, ein Mittel zum Ausführen von Rekonstruktion, unter Verwendung von einigen Rahmen der Maskenbilder und/oder Bilder enthält, die durch Reduzieren der Maskenbilder erhalten worden sind.
     
    13. Vorrichtung nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 12, bei der ein Winkelabtastungsabstand der Kontrastbilder nicht weniger als das Zweifache eines Winkelabtastungsabstandes der Maskenbilder ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Appareil d'angiographie aux rayons X comprenant :

    un bras en C (60) ;

    un mécanisme de support (10) aménagé pour supporter à rotation le bras en C ;

    une unité d'entraînement en rotation (22) adaptée pour entraîner la rotation du bras en C ;

    un générateur de rayons X (12) qui est monté sur une extrémité du bras en C ;

    un détecteur de rayons X (14) qui est monté sur l'autre extrémité du bras en C dans une direction où il fait face au générateur de rayons X ; et

    une unité de commande (20) adaptée pour commander le détecteur de rayons X afin de faire en sorte qu'un débit de trames du détecteur de rayons X soit le même dans une période d'imagerie d'images de masques, dans laquelle une pluralité d'images de masques sont prises et dans une période d'imagerie d'images de contrastes, dans laquelle une pluralité d'images de contrastes sont prises, caractérisé par la commande de l'unité d'entraînement en rotation pour faire en sorte que la vitesse de rotation du bras en C dans la période d'imagerie d'images de contrastes soit supérieure à la vitesse de rotation du bras C dans la période d'imagerie d'images de masques.


     
    2. Appareil selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre une unité de reconstruction (34) pour reconstruire une première image tridimensionnelle sur la base d'images différentielles entre les images de contrastes et les images de masques, et pour reconstruire une deuxième image tridimensionnelle sur la base des images de masques.
     
    3. Appareil selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre une unité génératrice d'images (34) pour reconstruire une image tridimensionnelle sur la base de ladite pluralité d'images de contrastes, reconstruire une deuxième image tridimensionnelle sur la base de certaines de ladite pluralité d'images de masques, reconstruire une troisième image tridimensionnelle sur la base d'un restant de ladite pluralité d'images de masques, générer une quatrième image tridimensionnelle en soustrayant la deuxième image tridimensionnelle de la première image tridimensionnelle, et générer une cinquième image tridimensionnelle en ajoutant la deuxième image tridimensionnelle à la troisième image tridimensionnelle.
     
    4. Appareil selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre une unité génératrice d'images (34) pour reconstruire une première image tridimensionnelle sur la base de ladite pluralité d'images de contrastes, reconstruire une deuxième image tridimensionnelle sur la base de certaines de ladite pluralité d'images de masques, reconstruire une troisième image tridimensionnelle sur la base de ladite pluralité d'images de masques et générer une quatrième image tridimensionnelle en soustrayant la deuxième image tridimensionnelle de la première image tridimensionnelle.
     
    5. Appareil selon la revendication 2, comprenant en outre une unité génératrice d'images (34) pour générer une image combinée de la première image tridimensionnelle et de la deuxième image tridimensionnelle et générer une image combinée d'une tranche provenant de la première image tridimensionnelle et d'une tranche provenant de la deuxième image tridimensionnelle.
     
    6. Appareil selon la revendication 5, comprenant en outre une unité d'affichage (37) pour afficher la première image tridimensionnelle, la deuxième image tridimensionnelle et l'image combinée tout en commutant les images selon l'instruction d'un opérateur.
     
    7. Appareil selon la revendication 5 ou 6, l'unité génératrice d'images comprend une fonction de changement d'un rapport de combinaison entre la première image tridimensionnelle et la deuxième image tridimensionnelle.
     
    8. Appareil selon l'une quelconque des revendications 5 à 7, dans lequel l'unité génératrice d'images est adaptée pour afficher la première image tridimensionnelle et la deuxième image tridimensionnelle dans l'image combinée dans différents systèmes de couleurs.
     
    9. Appareil selon la revendication 2, dans lequel l'unité de reconstruction comprend des moyens de correction pour effectuer au moins une correction de durcissement de faisceau, une correction de rayonnement dispersée et une correction d'artéfact annulaire sur la base des images de masques, et des moyens pour reconstruire une troisième image tridimensionnelle sur la base des images de masques soumises à la correction.
     
    10. Appareil selon la revendication 9, dans lequel les moyens de correction comprennent des moyens pour reconstruire une quatrième image tridimensionnelle en utilisant des données de certaines des images de masques, des moyens pour identifier une épaisseur d'une région osseuse et une épaisseur d'une région de tissu mou à partir de la quatrième image tridimensionnelle par traitement de seuil, des moyens pour effectuer au moins l'une des corrections suivantes : une correction de durcissement de faisceau et une correction de rayonnement dispersé pour les images de masques sur la base de l'épaisseur identifiée de la région osseuse et l'épaisseur identifiée de la région de tissu mou, et des moyens pour reconstruire une troisième image tridimensionnelle sur la base des images de masques soumises à la correction.
     
    11. Appareil selon la revendication 10, dans lequel la quatrième image tridimensionnelle a une résolution inférieure à celle de la deuxième image tridimensionnelle.
     
    12. Appareil selon la revendication 10, dans lequel les moyens de reconstruction d'une quatrième image tridimensionnelle en utilisant des données de certaines des images de masques comprennent des moyens pour effectuer la reconstruction en utilisant l'un ou les deux trames d'images de masques et d'images obtenues en réduisant les images de masques.
     
    13. Appareil selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 12, dans lequel un pas d'échantillonnage d'angle des images de contrastes n'est pas inférieur à deux fois un pas d'échantillonnage d'angle des images de masques.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description