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1. (WO2007120744) SCANNING SLOT CONE-BEAM COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY AND SCANNING FOCUS SPOT CONE-BEAM COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY
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I Claim:

1. A cone-beam computed tomography system comprising:
an x-ray source that emits an x-ray beam;
a slot that intercepts said x-ray beam so that a plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams emanate from said slot towards an object;
a detector receiving fan-shaped x-rays after they pass through said object, said detector generating an imaging signal for each of said received fan-shaped x-rays; and
a computer connected to said detector so as to receive said imaging signals for each of said received fan-shaped x-rays, wherein said x-ray source, said slot and said detector rotate about said object so that multiple imaging signals are reconstructed by said computer to generate a three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image therefrom; and
a display connected to said computer and displaying said three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image.

2. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1, wherein said x-ray source comprises a kV x-ray source.

3. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1, wherein said slot moves relative to said x-ray source.

4. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1, wherein said slot rotates about said x-ray source.

5. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1 , wherein said slot is stationary with respect a housing that contains said x-ray source.

6. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1, wherein said detector is a flat panel imager.

7. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 6, wherein said flat panel imager comprises an array of amorphous silicon detector elements.

8. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 7, wherein said array is a two-dimensional array.

9. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1, wherein said x-ray source comprises an anode and a cathode, wherein said cathode emits electrons which strike a single area of space occupied by said anode.

10. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 3, wherein said x-ray source comprises an anode and a cathode, wherein said cathode emits electrons which strike a single area of space occupied by said anode.

11. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1 , wherein said x-ray source comprises an anode and a cathode, wherein said cathode emits electrons which strike multiple, discrete areas of space occupied by said anode.

12. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 5, wherein said x-ray source comprises an anode and a cathode, wherein said cathode emits electrons which strike multiple, discrete areas of space occupied by said anode.

13. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1, wherein said computer causes said detector to read only certain areas of said detector for each fan-shaped x-ray beam received.

14. The cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 1 , wherein said x-ray source comprises a source of particles that strike a target, wherein an intensity of each of said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams is modulated by modulating a current of said particles striking said target.

15. A method of imaging an object, comprising:
i) emitting from an x-ray source an x-ray beam in a fan-shaped form towards an object;

ii) detecting x-rays that pass through said object due to said emitting an x-ray beam with a detector;
iii) generating image data regarding said object from said detected x-rays; and
iv) rotating said x-ray source and said detector relative to said object and continuously repeating steps i)-iv) until a sufficient number of imaging data regarding said object is generated so as to form a three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image therefrom;
forming a three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image from said sufficient number of imaging data; and
displaying said three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image is formed from at most one full rotation of said x-ray source and detector about said object.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein said emitting comprises emitting a plurality of x-ray beams in fan-shaped form towards the object and said two-dimensional image of said object is generated from detecting said plurality of x-ray beams.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein said emitting comprises collimating a single x-ray beam with a moving collimator.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein said moving collimator rotates.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein said emitting comprises sequentially forming x-ray beams off of different areas of an anode of said x-ray source.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein said emitting comprises sequentially forming x-ray beams off of said different areas of said anode by sequentially directing electrons from a single cathode of said x-ray source towards said different areas.

22. The method of claim 15, wherein said x-ray beam has an energy in the kilovolt range.

23. The method of claim 15, further comprising modulating intensities of each of said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams by modulating a current of particles striking a target that generate said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams.

24. A method of imaging an object, comprising:
directing a plurality of x-ray beams in a fan-shaped form towards an object;
detecting x-rays that pass through said object due to said directing a plurality of x-ray beams;
generating a plurality of imaging data regarding said object from said detected x-rays;
forming a three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image from said plurality of imaging data; and
displaying said three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein said directing comprises collimating a single x-ray beam with a moving collimator.

26. The method of claim 25, wherein said moving collimator rotates.

27. The method of claim 24, wherein said directing comprises sequentially forming x-ray beams off of different areas of an anode of an x-ray source.

28. The method of claim 27, wherein said directing comprises sequentially forming x-ray beams off of said different areas of said anode by sequentially directing electrons from a single cathode of said x-ray source towards said different areas.

29. The method of claim 24, wherein said x-ray beam has an energy in the kilovolt range.

30. A digital tomosynthesis system comprising:
an x-ray source that emits an x-ray beam;
a slot that intercepts said x-ray beam so that a plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams emanate from said slot towards an object;
a detector receiving fan-shaped x-rays after they pass through said object, said detector generating an imaging signal for each of said received fan-shaped x-rays; and
a computer connected to said detector so as to receive said imaging signals for each of said received fan-shaped x-rays, wherein said x-ray source, said slot and said detector rotate about said object so that multiple imaging signals are reconstructed by said computer to generate a digital tomosynthesis image therefrom; and
a display connected to said computer and displaying said digital tomosynthesis image.

31. The digital tomosynthesis system of claim 30, wherein said x-ray source comprises a kV x-ray source.

32. The digital tomosynthesis system of claim 30, wherein said slot moves relative to said x-ray source.

33. The digital tomosynthesis system of claim 30, wherein said detector is a flat panel imager.

34. The digital tomosynthesis system of claim 30, wherein said x-ray source comprises an anode and a cathode, wherein said cathode emits electrons which strike a single area of space occupied by said anode.

35. The digital tomosynthesis of claim 30, wherein said x-ray source comprises an anode and a cathode, wherein said cathode emits electrons which strike multiple, discrete areas of space occupied by said anode.

36. The digital tomosynthesis system of claim 30, wherein said x-ray source comprises a source of particles that strike a target, wherein an intensity of each of said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams is modulated by modulating a current of said particles striking said target.

37. A method of imaging an object, comprising:
i) emitting from an x-ray source an x-ray beam in a fan-shaped form towards an object;
ii) detecting x-rays that pass through said object due to said emitting an x-ray beam with a detector;
iii) generating image data regarding said object from said detected x-rays; and
iv) rotating said x-ray source and said detector relative to said object and continuously repeating steps i)-iv) until a sufficient number of imaging data regarding said object is generated so as to form a digital tomosynthesis image therefrom;
forming a digital tomosynthesis image from said sufficient number of imaging data; and
displaying said digital tomosynthesis image.

38. The method of claim 37, wherein said x-ray beam has an energy in the kilovolt range.

39. The method of claim 37, further comprising modulating intensities of each of said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams by modulating a current of particles striking a target that generate said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams.

40. A quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system comprising:
an x-ray source that sequentially emits a plurality of x-ray beams at different positions along a scanning direction;
a collimator that intercepts said plurality of x-ray beams so that a plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams emanate from said collimator towards an object;
a detector receiving fan-shaped x-rays after they pass through said object, said detector generating an imaging signal for each of said received fan-shaped x-rays; and
a computer connected to said detector so as to receive said imaging signals for each of said received fan-shaped x-rays, wherein said x-ray source, said slot and said detector rotate about said object so that multiple imaging signals are reconstructed by said computer to generate a three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image therefrom; and
a display connected to said computer and displaying said three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image.

41. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 40, wherein said x-ray source comprises a kV x-ray source.

42. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 40, wherein said collimator comprising a plurality of slots, wherein each of said plurality of said slots corresponds to one of said different positions.

43. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 42, wherein said collimator is stationary with respect to said x-ray source.

44. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 40, wherein said detector is a flat panel imager.

45. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 40, wherein said detector is a two-dimensional array of individual detector elements.

46. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 40, wherein said detector is a one-dimensional array of individual detector elements.

47. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 46, wherein said collimator focuses said fan-shaped x-ray beams onto said detector.

48. The quasi -cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 40, wherein said x-ray source comprises an anode and a plurality of distinct cathodes aligned along said scanning direction, wherein each of said plurality of cathodes emits electrons which strike areas of space occupied by said anode that correspond to said different positions.

49. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of cl aim 40, wherein said x-ray source comprises an anode and a single cathodes aligned along said scanning direction, wherein electrons are emitted from different areas of said single cathode so as to strike areas of space occupied by said anode that correspond to said different positions.

50. The quasi-cone-beam computed tomography system of claim 40, further comprising a controller to control said x-ray source to sequentially emit said plurality of x-ray beams at said different positions along said scanning direction;

51. A method of imaging an object, comprising:
i) emitting from an x-ray source a plurality of x-ray beams at different positions along a scanning direction;
ii) forming a plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams from said plurality of x-ray beams emitted from said x-ray source;
ii) detecting x-rays that pass through said object due to said emitting an x-ray beam with a detector;
iii) generating image data regarding said object from said detected x-rays; and iv) rotating said x-ray source and said detector relative to said object and continuously repeating steps i)-iv) until a sufficient number of imaging data regarding said object is generated so as to form a three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image therefrom;
forming a three-dimensional cone-beam computed
tomography image from said sufficient number of two-dimensional images; and
displaying said three-dimensional cone-beam computed
tomography image.

52. The method of claim 51, wherein said three-dimensional cone-beam computed tomography image is formed from at most one full rotation of said x-ray source and detector about said object.

53. The method of claim 51, wherein said emitting comprises sequentially forming x-ray beams off of different areas of an anode of said x-ray source.

54. The method of claim 53, wherein said emitting comprises sequentially forming x-ray beams off of said different areas of said anode by sequentially directing electrons from a single cathode of said x-ray source towards said different areas.

55. The method of claim 51, wherein said x-ray beam has an energy in the kilovolt range.

56. The method of claim 51, further comprising modulating intensities of each of said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams by modulating a current of particles striking a target that generate said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams.

57. A linear scanning system comprising:
an x-ray source that sequentially emits a plurality of x-ray beams at different positions along a scanning direction, said x-ray source comprising: an anode; and
a single cathode aligned along said scanning direction, wherein electrons are emitted from different areas of said single cathode so as to strike areas of space occupied by said anode that correspond to said different positions; and
a controller to control said x-ray source to sequentially emit said plurality of x-ray beams at said different positions along said scanning direction.

58. The linear scanning system of claim 57, further comprising a collimator that intercepts said plurality of x-ray beams so that a plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams emanate from said collimator.

59. The linear scanning system of claim 57, wherein said x-ray source comprises a kV x-ray source.

60. A method of scanning, comprising:

sequentially forming x-ray beams off of different areas of an anode of an x-ray source; and
sequentially forming x-ray beams off of said different areas of said anode by sequentially directing electrons from a single cathode of said x-ray source towards said different areas.

61. The method of claim 60, further comprising forming a plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams from said plurality of x-ray.

62. The method of claim 60, wherein said x-ray beam has an energy in the kilovolt range.

63. The method of claim 60, further comprising modulating intensities of each of said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams by modulating a current of particles striking a target that generate said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams.

64. A scanning system comprising:
an x-ray source that sequentially emits a plurality of x-ray beams at different positions along a scanning direction, said x-ray source comprising:
an anode; and
a cathode system aligned along said scanning direction, wherein electrons are emitted from different areas of said cathode system so as to strike areas of space occupied by said anode that correspond to said different positions; and
a controller to modulate intensities of each of said plurality of x-ray beams by modulating a current of said electrons striking said anode.

65. The scanning system of claim 64, further comprising a collimator that intercepts said plurality of x-ray beams so that a plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams emanate from said collimator.

66. The scanning system of claim 64, wherein said x-ray source comprises a kV x-ray source.

67. The scanning system of claim 64, wherein said cathode system comprises a single cathode.

68. The scanning system of claim 61, wherein said cathode system comprises a plurality of cathodes.

69. A method of scanning, comprising:

generating a plurality of x-ray beams that strike different areas of an object; and

modulating intensities of each of said plurality of x-ray beams by modulating a current of particles striking a target that generate said plurality of x-ray beams.

70. The method of claim 69, wherein said x-ray beam has an energy in the kilovolt range.

71. A megavoltage imaging system comprising:
a megavoltage x-ray source that emits an x-ray beam having a range of energies therein that range from 0 to 4 MV;
a slot that intercepts said x-ray beam so that a plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams emanate from said slot towards an object;
a detector receiving fan-shaped x-rays after they pass through said object, said detector generating an imaging signal for each of said received fan-shaped x-rays; and
a computer connected to said detector so as to receive said imaging signals for each of said received fan-shaped x-rays, and
a display connected to said computer and displaying an image of said object based on said imaging signals.

72. The megavoltage imaging system of claim 71, wherein said slot moves relative to said x-ray source.

73. The megavoltage imaging system of claim 71, wherein said slot rotates about said x-ray source.

74. The megavoltage imaging system of claim 71, wherein said detector is a flat panel imager.

75. The megavoltage imaging system of claim 74, wherein said flat panel imager comprises an array of amorphous silicon detector elements.

76. The megavoltage imaging system of claim 71, wherein said computer causes said detector to read only certain areas of said detector for each fan-shaped x-ray beam received.

77. The megavoltage imaging system of claim 71, wherein said x-ray source comprises a source of particles that strike a target, wherein an intensity of each of said plurality of fan-shaped x-ray beams is modulated by modulating a current of said particles striking said target.

78. A method of imaging an object, comprising:
directing a plurality of x-ray beams in a fan-shaped form towards an object, wherein each of said plurality of x-ray beams has a range of energies therein that range from 0 to 4 MV;
detecting x-rays that pass through said object due to said directing a plurality of x-ray beams;
generating a plurality of imaging data regarding said object from said detected x-rays;
forming an image from said plurality of imaging data; and
displaying said image.

79. The method of claim 78, wherein said directing comprises collimating a single x-ray beam with a moving collimator.

80. The method of claim 79, wherein said moving collimator rotates.