Radiation Detectors and Medical Imaging
     Systems (SH2310)


Spring (P. 4)

ECTS credits: 7.5

This course is intended for students in the program Engineering Physics, the Master program Medical Engineering or other programs.

The goal with the course is to provide an understanding of the field of medical imaging, with focus on x-ray based modalities. The medical imaging machines are important diagnostic tools for doctors working in the clinic and a good image can save a life. However, exposing patients to ionizing radiation comes with an associated risk from the radiation dose. Therefore, it is of utter most importance that the information acquired from an x-ray measurement is utilized to its fullest and this is where the research and development of medical imaging modalities has its focus – optimization of image quality versus patient dose.

Medical imaging is a multi-billion dollar industry and the machines are produced by many of the big electronics companies in the world, including Phillips, Siemens, General Electric, Toshiba, etc.

Learning outcomes

After completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Explain the physical and technological principles behind various types of radiation detectors and imaging modalities.
  • Use the signals and systems approach to describe and estimate the quality of an imaging system.
  • Display understanding of the Fourier space representation of images.
  • Use the physics of radiation absorption and generation together with the geometries of the different imaging modalities to solve numerical problems.
  • Perform image reconstruction for Computed Tomography in simple cases and understand the sinogram representation of images.

The student is required to use a mathematical programming language such as MATLAB for the hand-ins and laboratory work.

To qualify for the highest grades, the student should also demonstrate the ability to:

  • Identify physical and current technological limitations of medical imaging systems.
  • Apply knowledge from imaging modalities within the course content on novel imaging techniques.
  • Solve medical imaging problems that relate to statistics and probability theory.
  • Show understanding of the connection between the image quality metrics (e.g. PSF, MTF, NPS, SNR) and the final image.

Course main content

The course treats the physical, mathematical and technological aspects of medical imaging systems from a signals-and-systems point of view. Modalities (imaging types) covered include:

  • Projection Radiography
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Planar Scintigraphy
  • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Ultrasound imaging (briefly)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (briefly)

Numerical methods to quantify the performance of medical imaging systems are presented. The design of medical imaging systems usually involves a number of tradeoffs involving parameters such as: contrast, spatial resolution, noise, image acquisition time, size and cost. It is a major goal of the course to provide an understanding of these relations.


Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science or equivalent.


One written exam (TEN1; 4,5 university credits) and laboratory work, including compulsory participation in visits at Hospital (LAB1; 3 university credits). Hand-in assignments during the course give bonus points for the written exam.

Course Literature

Jerry L. Prince, Jonathan M. Links, "Medical Imaging Signals and Systems", 1st Edition (2009) or 2nd Edition (2014)


Martin Sjölin (martin.sjolin@mi.physics.kth.se)