A simple approach to measure computed tomography (CT) modulation transfer function (MTF) and noise-power spectrum (NPS) using the American College of Radiology (ACR) accreditation phantom

Saul N. Friedman, George S.K. Fung, Jeffrey H. Siewerdsen, Benjamin M.W. Tsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: To develop an easily-implemented technique with free publicly-available analysis software to measure the modulation transfer function (MTF) and noise-power spectrum (NPS) of a clinical computed tomography (CT) system from images acquired using a widely-available and standardized American College of Radiology (ACR) CT accreditation phantom. Methods: Images of the ACR phantom were acquired on a Siemens SOMATOM Definition Flash system using a standard adult head protocol: 120 kVp, 300 mAs, and reconstructed voxel size of 0.49 mm × 0.49 mm × 4.67 mm. The radial (axial) MTF was measured using an edge method where the boundary of the third module of the ACR phantom, originally designed to measure uniformity and noise, was used as a circular edge. The 3D NPS was measured using images from this same module and using a previously-described methodology that quantifies noise magnitude and 3D noise correlation. Results: The axial MTF was radially symmetrical and had a value of 0.1 at 0.62 mm-1. The 3D NPS shape was consistent with the filter-ramp function of filtered-backprojection reconstruction algorithms and previously reported values. The radial NPS peak value was ∼115 HU 2mm3 at ∼0.25 mm-1 and dropped to 0 HU 2mm3 by 0.8 mm-1. Conclusions: The authors have developed an easily-implementable technique to measure the axial MTF and 3D NPS of clinical CT systems using an ACR phantom. The widespread availability of the phantom along with the free software the authors have provided will enable many different institutions to immediately measure MTF and NPS values for comparison of protocols and systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051907
JournalMedical physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013



  • ACR phantom
  • American College of Radiology phantom
  • CT
  • MTF
  • NPS
  • computed tomography
  • modulation transfer function
  • noise
  • noise-power spectrum
  • resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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