NPRE 435: Radiological Imaging


Fall, 2019


Course Description

In this course, we will discuss the basic principles for generating tomographic images of volumetric objects through the detection of ionizing radiation signals. These include the sources of ionizing radiation, interactions of ionizing radiation with matter, operating principles for state-of-art imaging detectors, mathematical and statistical principles for modeling the detected signal, basic techniques for reconstructing tomographic images from measured projections. Based on these discussions, we will introduce several critically important imaging modalities, such as planar X-ray radiography, X-ray computed tomography (CT), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and their application in diagnosis of diseases, monitoring therapeutic responses and as research tools for understanding the molecular pathways underlying various biological processes. We will also discuss several emerging radiological imaging techniques, such as X-ray fluorescence emission tomography (XFET), X-ray luminescence computed tomography (XLCT) and their applications in preclinical and clinical research.

This course will not only cover the basic principles of currently radiological imaging techniques, but also highlight the advantages and limitations of the existing imaging modalities, as well as identify potential directions for further advancing the field of radiological imaging.


Syllabus and Tentative Schedule


Basic Contents

Lab tour:  We will have 1-2 lab tours during the semester to (1) the Molecular Imaging Center at the Biomedical Imaging Center (BIC) of the Beckman Institute, and (2) the Microscopic Suite at the Beckman Institute.

Term project: TBD.

Quizzes and Exams: Two major exams and 4-6 quizzes throughout the semester.



Teaching Staff and Office Hours

Instructor: Ling-Jian Meng, Ph.D. E-mail:; Office: 111E Talbot Lab; Tel: 217-3337710.

Office hours: 3-5pm on Friday. Please feel free to come to my office during regular hours, or to send me email to make appointments.



Lecture Time and Place

      MWF 2:00pm-2:50pm; 1131 Siebel Center.




Unofficially: radiation interactions, basic principles of radiation detectors, probability and random variables complex numbers, linear algebra, Matlab.



Required textbooks

      Medical Imaging Signals and Systems (2nd Edition), J. Prince and J. M. Links, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2012. Chapter 1-3, Chapter 4-6.



      Foundations of Medical Imaging, Z. H. Cho, John Wiley & Sons, 1993.

      Radiation Detection and Measurements, Third Edition, G. F. Knoll, John Wiley & Sons, 1999.


Course Website



Lecture Notes (will be posted after each lecture)

Introduction to Radiological Imaging.


Chapter 1: A (Very) Brief Introduction to Radiation Sources and Radiation Interactions

§  A brief introduction to the radiation sources commonly used in radiological imaging: (09/06 – 09/11) Reading Material: Chapters 1 in Ref. book [3].

§  Radiation Interactions: Reading Material: Chapters 2 in Ref. book [3].

Chapter 2: Linear System Theory

§  Signals and systems: Reading Material: Chapters 2 in Ref. book [1].

§  Fourier transform basics, and sampling theory: Reading Material: Chapters 2 in Ref. book [1] and Chapters 2 in Ref. book [2].


Chapter 3: Mathematical Preliminaries for Image Processing

§  Analytical Image Reconstruction Methods (1): Radon Transform & Central Slice Theorem: Reading: Chapter 3 in Ref. book [1]. Chapter 6 (Page 192-207) in Ref. book [2]

§  Analytical Image Reconstruction Methods (2): Back-projection based reconstruction methods:

§   A brief introduction to MATLAB.

§  Iterative Image Reconstruction Methods: please also see the attached paper by Shepp and Vardi on MLEM.

§  Image Quality: Reading Material: Chapters 3 in Ref. book [2].


Chapter 4: X-ray Radiography and Computed Tomography

§  X-Ray Physics (1): X-ray generation.  Reading Material: Chapters 4 & 5 in Ref. book [2]

§  X-Ray Physics (2): X-ray interactions, attenuation and practical considerations. Reading Material: Chapters 4 & 5 in Ref. book [2]

§  X-Ray Physics (3): X-ray detectors. Reading Material: Chapters 4 & 5 in Ref. book [2]

§  (Not covered in lecture) Planar X-Ray Image Formation: Reading Material: Chapters 5 in Ref. book [2]. Note that the notations used in lecture notes may be different from those used in the textbook.

§  (Not covered in lecture) SNR of X-Ray Images: Reading Material: Chapters 5 in Ref. book [2].

§  X-Ray CT: Image formation, image quality: Reading Material: Chapters 6 in Ref. book [2].



Chapter 5: Emission Tomography and Related Imaging Techniques

§  Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) (1): principle, radionuclides and Imaging systems: Reading Material: Chapters 7 & 8 in Ref. book [2].

§  Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (2): SPECT systems, Image Formation, Design Considerations and Recent Advances: Reading Material: Chapters 7 & 8 in Ref. book [2].

§  Positron Emission Tomography (PET): Basic Principle, Instrumentations, Design Considerations and Clinical Uses: Additional Reading Material: Chapters 9 in Ref. book [2], and recent technological advances.  



Chapter 5: Radiological Image-Formation II – Modern X-ray Imaging Techniques

§  Elements of modern X-ray physics.                                                                               

§  Conventional X-ray radiography and computed tomography.                                        

§  X-ray phase-contrast imaging.                                                                                       

§  Diffraction enhanced imaging.                                                                                       



Sample Questions for Preparation of Midterm Exam


Please see below for 5 sets of questions that were prepared for Quizzes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Similar questions may be included in the midterm exam. So please make sure to review the questions.


Homeworks (will be posted after each Monday’s lecture) 


Homework 1. Due date: 5pm on September 23rd, 2019. Please return your homework to me before or after the lecture on Monday or to my office at 111E Talbot Lab.  

Homework 2. Due date: 5pm on October 7th, 2019.

Homework 3. Due date: 5pm on October 14th, 2019.


Term Project



Mid-term Exam Information

     Time: 2-3 pm on Friday, Oct. 25.

     Content covered: Chapter 2 – Mathematical Preliminaries. There will be 4 questions in the exam.

Format: Close-book, but you could bring a 2-page “cheat-sheet”. 

Review slides.


Final Exam Information




Homework 20%

Term project: 20%

Mid-term exam: 15%

Quizzes: 15%

Final exam: Exam 30%