Phase-contrast X-ray computed tomography for observing biological soft tissues

Atsushi Momose, Tohoru Takeda, Yuji Itai, Keiichi Hirako

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

788 Citations (Scopus)


Biological soft tissues are almost transparent to hard X rays and therefore cannot be investigated without enhancement with a contrast medium, such as iodine. On the other hand, phase-contrast X-ray imaging is sensitive to light elements. This is because the X-ray phase shift cross section is almost a thousand times larger than the X-ray absorption cross section for light elements such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. Hence, phase- contrast X-ray imaging is a promising technique for observing the structure inside biological soft tissues without the need for staining and without serious radiation exposure. We have devised a means of observing biological tissues. In three dimensions using a novel X-ray computed tomography (CT) by modifying the phase-contrast technique. To generate appropriate CT input data, we used phase-mapping images obtained using an X-ray interferometer and computer analysis of interference patterns. Now, we present a three- dimensional observation result of a nonstained sample of a cancerous rabbit liver, using a synchrotron X-ray source. Phase-contrast X-ray CT was able to clearly differentiate the cancer lesion from the normal tissue. Moreover, fine structures corresponding to cancerous degeneration and fibrous tissues were clearly depicted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-475
Number of pages3
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1996


Dive into the research topics of 'Phase-contrast X-ray computed tomography for observing biological soft tissues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this