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Notebook #16

Photoelectric Absorption
P.E. absorption occurs when an incident photon collides with an inner shell electron in
an atom. First, the Incident photon hits the electron and ejects it from the inner shell and
is then absorbed completely in the interaction. The electron that was ejected from its
shell is now ionized and becomes a photoelectron or a recoil electron. A photoelectron
travels with kinetic energy which is equal to the difference between the incident photon
and the binding energy of the inner shell electron (Ei=Eb+Eke). The k-shell of the atom
is now empty and is instantly filled by an L or M-shell electron that releases
characteristic radiation (characteristic photon). The secondary radiation
(characteristic photon) has such low energy that it absorbs in the patient and does not
affect the images or fog the film. This is beneficial in producing high-quality images
because there is no scattered radiation, but can be somewhat harmful to the patient
due to increased radiation exposure. The difference in absorption is what makes a
radiographic image possible. Also, P.E. interactions occur in bone more than soft tissue
because bone is denser and has a higher atomic #.

Coherent Scattering (classical)


Coherent scattering occurs when a low energy incident photon passes near an outer
electron (low binding energy) of an atom. The incident photon interacts with the outer
shell and causes it to vibrate at the same frequency as the incoming photon. The
vibration of the atom causes it to release excess energy by producing another x-ray
photon that has same energy and wavelength (frequency) as the incident photon but
travels in a different direction than the incident photon. The atom is not ionized and
this interaction has very little significant to diagnostic imaging.

Compton Scattering
Compton scattering occurs when a photon interacts with a loosely bound outer shell
electron, that receives kinetic energy and is ejected (recoiled) from the point of impact and
proceeds in a different direction as a scattered photon. The electron that is dislodged is
called a Compton. The energy of the Compton scattered photon possess less energy than
the incident photon so it has a lower frequency and longer wavelength. The energy
transferred in the Compton effect is expressed: Ei=Es+Eke+Eb. The incident photon energy
is divided between scattered photon and ejected electron. The higher the energy of the
incident photon, the greater the probability that the angle of scatter of the secondary
photon will be small and directed forward. Scattered photon will retain most of the
energy (2/3) because of the little energy needed to eject outer shell electron due to low
binding energy. The recoil electron is available as a free electron to fill a shell hole created
by an ionizing interaction. Scattered photons can be deflected at any angle from the recoil
electron. As the angle of deflection increases to 180 degrees, more energy is
transferred to recoil electron and less energy remains with scattered photon. Scattered

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photons darken the film and carry no useful information to it because the path is altered. If
photons scatter back toward the origin of incident photon, then it is called backscatter.
Compton scatter is the greatest source of radiation exposure during CT and Fluro. Notes:
When you increase kvp, there will be less Compton, less absorption and the atomic # does
not affect interactions. Higher mass density (thickness of patient) of matter increases
Compton interactions. The higher the kvp is the high energy photon will pass right through
the patient to the IR.