Patent number 8488737 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Vacuum tubes have been used for decades in the well-known medical X-ray technology field as X-ray sources for generating ionizing X-radiation. In these applications an electron beam is emitted from a metal filament cathode heated to over 1000.degree. C. in an evacuated glass tube and accelerated toward a metal anode made, for example, of tungsten, as a result of which X-radiation is generated. A vacuum tube of said kind having a rotating anode is known from U.S. Pat. No. 4,326,144, for example. Known vacuum tubes have among other things the disadvantages of heavy weight (both due to their intrinsic weight and due to an additionally necessary water cooling system), large dimensions, a low level of efficiency, and in particular significant heat generation.
"New interventional X-ray applications impose increasingly exacting demands in terms of image quality; at the same time it is important to keep exposure of patients and staff to X-radiation to a minimum. According to the prior art conventional X-ray emitters and flat-panel X-ray detectors are currently used for interventional X-ray systems. Limiting factors affecting image quality in this case are, inter alia, scattered radiation and the limited efficiency of the detector."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "It is the object of the present invention to provide a medical X-ray imaging system which ensures the recorded X-ray images are of a high quality.
"The object is achieved according to the invention by a medical X-ray imaging system as claimed in the independent claim. Advantageous embodiments of the invention are in each case the subject matter of the associated dependent claims.
"The medical X-ray imaging system according to the invention has a flat, planar X-ray source having a surface with X-ray focal points arranged adjacent to one another and an X-ray detector having a sensor surface, the X-ray source having a plurality of field emission guns with at least one field emission cathode and the surface with focal points of the X-ray source being larger in size than the sensor surface of the X-ray detector. The X-ray imaging system according to the invention has what is termed an inverse geometry, as a result of which the scattered radiation, for example, is significantly reduced, thereby lowering the exposure to radiation for patient and operator as well as increasing image quality. In contrast to known X-ray emitters, the field emission guns can be produced efficiently and economically in large numbers and with very small dimensions and used cost-effectively. Instead of a large X-ray detector, a relatively small, though at the same time very powerful and efficient X-ray detector is used, as a result of which the image quality of the recorded X-ray images can likewise be improved. What is to be understood by the surface with the focal points of the X-ray source is the two-dimensional area over which the field emission guns are distributed, the field emission guns or, more accurately, their focal points being arranged as densely as possible.
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