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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Physics Short Name: PHYM033
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: PODOLYAK Z Dr (Physics)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability
Semester 2
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)


Closed book examination




Laboratory practical report








Part-time Students:


Same as for full time students


Qualifying Condition(s)




This module is assessed by examination, practical work and an essay.

The examination (Paper III) will consist of 6 questions; students answer 2 questions from the 6. The examination covers the “X-rays, γ-rays, MTF and ROC Analysis” and “X-ray imaging and analysis” sections of the module. Full marks for a question will be equivalent to 25 % of the total marks available for this module.

The “Nuclear Medicine” section of the module is assessed by a written report on a hospital-based practical session, full marks for which will be equivalent to 25% of the total marks available for this module.

The “Radiotherapy” section of the module is assessed by an essay, which carries a maximum contribution of 25% to the total marks available for this module.

Module Overview
Ionising radiation is widely used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. The bulk of hospital physicists work with ionising radiation and hence the topic is fundamental for anyone entering the profession. An introduction is given to imaging systems: X-radiography, X-ray computed tomography, gamma cameras, single photon computer tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET). The module also includes the use of radiation detectors in radiotherapy.
Module Aims
To achieve an understanding of medical X-ray and gamma ray imaging technology in terms of equipment components and their performance and to relate this to the needs of diagnostic medical imaging. To establish a basic appreciation of radiotherapy and the detectors used to validate and monitor therapeutic delivery of radiation doses to the patient. An appreciation of quality management, its aims and application to imaging and radiotherapy.
Learning Outcomes

After completing this module, the student should be able to:
Module Specific Skills:
• Describe the physical principles and key technologies which determine the performance of medical X-ray and gamma-ray imaging systems
• Describe the quality assurance cycle required for diagnostic X-ray and nuclear medicine equipment and to be familiar with test equipment commonly used for the most important measurements undertaken by physicists in an imaging department
• Describe the operation and clinical implications of radiotherapy detector instrumentation

Discipline Specific Skills:
• Use this knowledge when taking up posts within the Health Service and other related fields

Personal and Key Skills:
• Ability to use physics techniques in a multidisciplinary context
• Ability to evaluate the risks involved in a particular application

Module Content











Dr K Wells (2h)













Dr A J Britten (4h)



Dr S A Sassi (2h)








M M Pryor (4h)










Prof K Young


Prof D Dance












Dr J Scuffham (12h)












Prof A Nisbet + relevant RSCH staff (6h)


X-rays, γ-rays, MTF and ROC Analysis


Mathematical formulation of the imaging system; linear operator, principle of superposition, impulse response function, stationarity, line spread function, edge spread function, convolution integral, MTF.  Usefulness of MTF, modulation input and output, test objects, measure of  performance, cascade MTFs. Perception of detail, visual acuity, resolution criteria. Existence of observer, decision criteria, confidence thresholds, conditional probabilities, types of decision. Construction of the ROC curve and principle of ROC analysis.



X-ray Imaging and analysis


The X-ray tube construction and operational needs.



X-ray scatter in diagnostic imaging and scatter reduction methods.


X-ray film, intensifying screens and film-screen imaging performance.


Non-film imaging:  Image intensifiers and video X-ray images.  Digital Subtraction Angiography. The production and use of digital medical X-ray images. Photostimulable phosphors and direct digital X-ray detectors.



Introduction to quality management systems.  The quality assurance or life cycle of x-ray equipment.  The role of the physicist, radiographer and engineer.  Types of x-ray equipment.  Radiation safety and performance measurements on diagnostic and fluoroscopic equipment.  Test equipment for the physicist.  Published protocols.  Measurement and significance of patient dose.  Radiation safety design of x-ray rooms.  Optimisation of patient exposure.



The NHS Breast Screening Programme - organisation, facts and figures.  Risk/benefit analysis in mammography.  The profile of quality assurance and the role of the physicist. Elements of the mammographic imaging system:  dedicated X-ray sets, films, intensifying screens and film processing systems.  Use of various anode and filter materials to tailor the X-ray spectrum to individual patients.  Effects of film processing on image quality and patient dose.  Stereotactic biopsy systems and special procedures.  Introduction to digital imaging modalities and their applications in mammography.



Nuclear Medicine Instrumentation


Introduction to nuclear medicine (1h)


Radioactive sample counting applications in medicine (1h)


The gamma camera: components and basics of operation (1h)


The gamma camera: signal processing and corrections (1h)


The gamma camera: applications and quality control (1h)


SPECT: image reconstruction, attenuation & scatter correction (1h)


Hospital visit and laboratory practical (4h)


PET: basic principals and instrumentation (1h)


PET: applications and quality control (1h)




Radiotherapy Instrumentation


Introduction to radiotherapy and treatment planning (2h)


Ionisation chambers and applications (2h)


Electronic Portal Imaging Devices and

Cone Beam CT


Detectors for patient dosimetry: TLDs, diodes (1h)





























































Methods of Teaching/Learning
The module is taught by lecturers from both the Department of Physics and from hospitals.
Selected Texts/Journals
(i) Essential Reading
• The Essential Physics of Medical Imaging, Ed J T Bushberg, Williams & Wilkins, 1994
• The Physics of Medical Imaging, Ed S Webb, IoPP, 2002
• Radiation Detection and Measurement, Knoll, Wiley, 1999
• Medical Radiation Detectors, Editor N F Kember, IoPP, 1994
• Physics for Radiologists. Dendy & Heaton, Taylor & Francis; 2nd Edn, 1999
• Christensens Diagnostic Radiology, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 4th Edn, 1990
• Practical Nuclear Medicine, Sharp, Gemmell & Smith. OUP 2nd Edn, 1998
• Physics in Nuclear Medicine, Cherry, Sorenson, Phelps. Saunders, 3rd Edn, 2003
• Radiation Oncology Physics. Ed. E.B. Podgorsak, IAEA, 2005
• Linear Accelerators for Radiotherapy, Greene D, Adam Hilger (Medical Physics Handbook 17) 1986,
• Radiotherapy Physics in Practice, Ed: Williams & Thwaites, Oxford Medical Pub 2nd Edn, 2000

(ii) Supplementary Reading
• Guidance on the establishment and use of Diagnostic Reference Levels for Medical X-ray Examinations. IPEM Report 88, 2004.
• IPEM, College of Radiographers and the NRPB, 2005. Recommended Standards for Routine Performance Testing of Diagnostic X-ray Imaging Systems. IPEM Report 91
• IPEM, 1996-8. Measurement of the Performance Characteristics of Diagnostic X-ray Systems used in Medicine. Report 32 (2nd Edn). Part I: X-ray tubes and generators; Part II: X-ray image intensifier television systems; Part IV: X-ray intensifying screens, films, processors and automatic exposure control systems; Part V: Conventional tomographic equipment; Part VI: X-ray image intensifier fluorography systems.
• Screen Film Mammography. G T Barnes & G D Frey. Medical Physics Publishing
• Film Processing in Medical Imaging A G Haus. Medical Physics Publishing
• Review of computerised radiography systems in the NHS. NHS BSP Equip. Rep. 0501, 2005
• A cost comparison of full-field digital mammography with film-screen mammography in breast cancer screening. NHS BSP Equipment Report 0403, 2004
• QA Guideline for Medical Physics Services NHS BSP Pub 33, 2nd Edn, 2005
• Review of Radiation Risk in Breast Screening. NHS BSP Pub 54, 2003
• Computer Aided Detection in Mammography. NHS BSP Pub 48, 2001
• Performance of Mammographic Equipment in the UK Breast Screening Programme in 2000/2001. NHS BSP Pub 56, 2003
• IPEM Rep. 89. The Commissioning & Routine Testing of Mammographic X-ray Systems, 2005
• Screening for breast cancer in England: Past & future. NHS BSP Pub 61, 2006
• Consolidated Guidance on Standards for the NHS Breast Screening Programme NHS BSP Pub 60, 2005
• European Standard EN ISO 9001, European Committee for Standardisation, Brussels, 2000
• Quality Control of Gamma Camera Systems, IPEM Report 86, 2003
• Radioactive Sample Counting – Principals and Practice, IPEM Report 85, 2002
• IAEA Quality Control Atlas for Scintillation Camera Systems
Last Updated
17th December 2010