No assignee for this patent application has been made.
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to a detector system, and in particular a detector system for a diagnostic imaging device, such as an x-ray CT scanning device.
"A conventional x-ray CT scanning device is a large stationary device having a fixed bore, and is typically located in a dedicated x-ray room, such as in the radiology department of a hospital. In a typical device, an x-ray source and a detector system are mounted within a gantry defining an imaging bore, and rotate about an object being imaged. As the x-ray source and detector system rotate, the source projects a fan- or cone-shaped beam through the object being imaged, such as a patient, and the beam is attenuated by the object before impinging on the detector system. The detector system generally comprises an array of detector elements, where each element generates an electrical signal that represents the amount of attenuated beam radiation received at a particular detector location. The measurements from all detectors in the array together form a transmission profile that can be used to reconstruct images of the object, including three-dimensional tomographic images.
"As the complexity and sophistication of diagnostic imaging systems continues to increase over time, the power output from the various components of the imaging system is also increasing. These imaging systems typically generate large amount of heat during normal operation. This can be problematic, since a number of components typically found in such imaging systems, including the detector system, are highly-temperature dependent. Thus, many imaging systems include cooling systems to help manage heat flow within the device. In commonly-owned U.S. application Ser. No. 13/025,573, filed
"Within the imaging system, the detector system presents unique issues in terms of heat management and control, since the detector is both highly heat-sensitive, due to the temperature dependence of the photo-sensitive detector elements, and is also a heat-generator, as a result of the complex system of electronics that is used to convert the output of the individual detector elements into (digital) electrical signals for further processing. To reduce space and minimize noise, these heat-generating electronics are typically close-coupled to the heat-sensitive detector elements within the detector system. The electronics can easily heat up the detector elements, resulting in a loss of image quality.
"To deal with this issue, some imaging systems utilize cooling systems to maintain the heat-sensitive detector elements within normal operating temperatures. However, these cooling systems are generally large, complex and costly to implement. For example, U.S. Published Patent Application No. 2005/0117698 to Lacey et al. describes enclosing the detector electronics within a sealed refrigeration unit that includes a solid state heat pump (e.g., thermoelectric cooler) or heat pipe to cool the electronics.
"While these large, complex and expensive cooling systems may be suitable for conventional diagnostic imaging systems, which are themselves very large, complicated and expensive devices, such cooling systems are not ideal for smaller and/or lower-cost devices, including mobile devices. There is therefore a need for a compact, low-cost and easily-implemented apparatus for managing temperature in the detector system of an imaging device."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In embodiments, a detector system for an imaging device includes an airflow cooling system. The detector system may include a detector chassis forming a housing having a plurality of detector elements and associated electronics that extend along a length of the chassis. A duct may extend along the length of the chassis, and may be in fluid communication with the chassis housing via a manifold having a plurality of openings that extend along the length of the chassis. A vacuum source, such as a suction fan, may be coupled to the duct and generate a vacuum force within the duct. The chassis may include a plurality of inlet openings extending along the length of the chassis, with an airflow path being defined through the chassis housing between the plurality of inlet openings and the plurality of manifold openings. The suction fan may pull cooling air through the inlet openings into the detector chassis housing, through the manifold to the duct, and then expel the air from the detector system through an exhaust opening The airflow may be directed into thermal contact with the detector elements and the associated electronics to provide cooling of these components.
"In various embodiments, the suction fan and exhaust opening may be provided at one end of the chassis, with the exhaust opening directing the warmed exhaust air away from the chassis. In embodiments, the suction fan, exhaust opening, duct and manifold may be located proximate to one side surface of the chassis, and the inlet openings may be provided proximate to an opposite side surface of the chassis.
"The detector chassis may be light-tight and substantially air-impermeable. In embodiments, the air inlet openings comprise two sets of openings, a set of outer openings and a set of inner openings, which are offset relative to one another. A filter material may fill the gap between the two sets of openings.
"In one embodiment, a baffle may direct the airflow from the inlet openings into thermal contact with the detector elements and electronics. The chassis housing may include one or more internal passageways for directing the cooling airflow into thermal contact with the detector elements and the electronics. According to one embodiment, the temperature-sensitive components of the detector, such as the detector elements, may be positioned upstream of the heat-generating components, such as the electronics, in the cooling airflow path. The detector elements may be photodiodes, for example, and the electronics may include analog-to-digital converters.
"In various embodiments, the detector system may be housed within a gantry of an imaging system, such as an x-ray CT imaging system. The detector system may be mounted to a rotor that rotates within the gantry.
"Further embodiments include a method of controlling temperature within a detector system of an imaging system that includes directing a cooling fluid over a heat sensitive component of the detector system, directing the cooling fluid from the heat sensitive component over a heat generating component of the detector system, and directing the cooling fluid from the detector system.
"Further embodiments include a detector system for an imaging system that includes means for directing a cooling fluid over a heat sensitive component of the detector system, means for directing the cooling fluid from the heat sensitive component over a heat generating component of the detector system, and means for directing the cooling fluid from the detector system.
"Further embodiments include an x-ray CT imaging system that includes an x-ray source and a detector system housed within an imaging gantry for obtaining images of an object positioned within an imaging bore of the gantry, wherein the detector system comprises a detector chassis forming a housing having a plurality of detector elements and associated electronics located along a length of the chassis, a duct extending along the length of the chassis, a manifold having a plurality of openings extending along the length of the chassis, the manifold providing fluid communication between the duct and the chassis housing, a vacuum source coupled to the duct that generates a vacuum force within the duct, a plurality of inlet openings extending along the length of the chassis housing, an airflow path being defined through the chassis housing between the plurality of inlet openings and the plurality of manifold openings, the detector elements and associated electronics being located along the airflow path, and an exhaust opening coupled to the vacuum source for removing air from the detector system.
"Further embodiments include methods of imaging an object, such as a human or animal patient, using an imaging detector system having an airflow cooling system.
"In various embodiments, an airflow cooling system may provide a compact, low-cost and easily-implemented solution for controlling temperature within an imaging detector system.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"Other features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of the invention, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:
"FIG. 1A is a perspective view of an X-ray CT imaging system in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 1B is a cross-sectional view of an X-ray CT imaging system with an detector system of the invention;
"FIG. 2 is a rear perspective view of a detector system according to one embodiment;
"FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the detector system, showing a cross-section of the system;
"FIG. 4 is an exploded rear view of the detector system illustrating components of a cooling system, according to one embodiment; and
"FIG. 5 is a cross-section view of the detector system illustrating a flow path for cooling air."
For additional information on this patent application, see: Gregerson, Eugene A.; Sebring, Paul; Stanton, Russell; Connor, Michael; Allen, Michael; Coppen, Scott. Detector System for Imaging Device. Filed
Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Electronics.
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