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Background and Identification
An imaging phantom, also simply called a phantom, is a specially designed object that is scanned or imaged to evaluate, analyze, and tune the performance of imaging devices in the medical industry. Phantoms are generally more readily available and provide more consistent results than living subjects or cadavers. By using phantoms, medical professionals can avoid subjecting a living subject to direct risk. Originally, phantoms were employed for use in two-dimensional X-ray-based imaging techniques such as fluoroscopy or radiology. More recently, phantoms with desired imaging characteristics have been developed for three-dimensional techniques like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computed tomography scan), Ultrasound, PET (positron emission tomography), and other imaging modalities or methods.
A phantom used to evaluate medical imaging devices should theoretically respond in a similar manner to how human organs and tissues would act in that imaging method. For example, phantoms designed for two-dimensional radiography may hold quantities of X-ray contrast agents with similar X-ray absorbing properties to normal human tissue. This allows the user to tune the contract of the imaging device or modulate the patient’s exposure to radiation. However, phantoms do not necessarily need to have similar textures and mechanical properties as live humans because these qualities are not relevant in X-ray imaging methods.
GE cardiovascular phantoms can generally be identified by the GE emblem, which includes the letters “GE” in cursive font inside of a circle.