With advances in 3D in vivo imaging technology, non-invasive procedures can be used to characterize tissues to identify
tumors and monitor changes over time. Using a dedicated breast CT system with a quasi-monochromatic cone-beam x-ray source and
flat-panel digital detector, this study was performed in an effort to directly characterize different materials in vivo based on their absolute attenuation coefficients. CT acquisitions were first acquired using a multi-material rod phantom with acrylic, delrin, polyethylene, fat-equivalent, and glandular-equivalent plastic rods, and also with a human cadaver breast. Projections were collected with and without a beam stop array for scatter correction. For each projection, the 2D scatter was estimated with cubic spline interpolation of the average values behind the shadow of each beam stop overlapping the object. Scatter-corrected projections were subsequently calculated by subtracting the scatter images
containing only the region of the object from corresponding projections (consisting of primary and scatter x-rays)
without the beam stop array. Iterative OSTR was used to reconstruct the data and estimate the non-uniform attenuation
distribution. Preliminary results show that with reduced beam hardening from the x-ray beam, scatter correction further reduces the cupping artifact, improves image contrast, and yields attenuation coefficients < 8% of narrow-beam values of the known materials (range 1.2 - 7.8%). Peaks in the histogram showed clear separation between the different material attenuation coefficients. These findings indicate that minimizing beam hardening and applying scatter correction make it practical to directly characterize different tissues in vivo using absolute attenuation coefficients.