Abstract

Over recent decades a quiet revolution has taken place in the application of modern imaging theory to many fields of applied imaging. Nowhere has this movement been more dramatic than within the field of diagnostic medical x-ray imaging, to the extent that there is now a growing consensus around a universal imaging language for the description and comparison of the increasingly diverse range of technologies. This common language, which owes much to the basic quantum-limited approach pioneered by Rose and his contemporaries, embodies the fundamentally statistical nature of image signals and enables scientists and engineers to simultaneously develop new system designs optimized for the detection of small signals while constraining patient x-ray exposures to tolerable levels. We attempt to provide a summary of some of the more salient features of progress being made in the understanding of the signal-to-noise limitations of medical imaging systems and to place this progress within a historical context. Emphasis is placed on medical diagnostics based on x-ray imaging techniques.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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