Physics of Radiology

Author:  Anthony B. Wolbarst
ISBN:  9780944838952
Published:  1993 | 461 pp. | Hardcover



SCOPE  |  March 2007

Dr Wolbarst’s updated and expanded 660-page book, with 21 additional co-authors, provides a good grounding in the main areas of medical imaging, both ionising and non-ionising. This book is intended primarily for medical radiology residents in the USA and other physicians. However, it would be an excellent primer for medical physicists entering the UK IPEM Part I training, as well as being a good reference source for biomedical engineering and undergraduate students studying medical physics.


The book is divided into four major sections, which are then subdivided into different imaging modalities, resulting in a total of 60 ‘concise’ chapters! The introduction commences with a short historical note on medical imaging, the gold standard image quality parameters, and an overview of film radiography. The first major section, ‘Scientific and Technical Basis’, provides prerequisite learning material for understanding the core chapters and covers the fundamental basis of ultrasound, MR and gamma ray imaging. It delves deeper into the physics of X-ray imaging, and introduces radiation dose, detection and quantification of ionising radiation. The author then goes on to describe the objective and subjective image quality and system parameters, e.g. ROC and MTF curves and Poisson statistics, and does this fairly well. PACS is introduced with DICOM and CADD, which augments the basic chapter on digital image processing.


The next sections cover the analogue and digital aspects of diagnostic radiology, together with other imaging modalities: CT, MRI, nuclear medicine and medical ultrasound. These are described in depth, covering physics, instrumentation, clinical and safety aspects. However, readers should note that the standards covered are US only. One short chapter is solely devoted to describing the evolving and experimental technologies in medical imaging, including terahertz, microwave, thermography and nanotechnology.


The final two sections cover ‘Radiation Dose, Biological Effects, Risk, and Radiation Safety’ and ‘Radiation Safety and Emergency Response’. It considers in great detail the dosimetric, stochastic, deterministic and safety aspects of ionising radiation, and also ways to respond to major radiological and nuclear emergencies with reference to past incidents.


The book is written in a clear, relaxed and straightforward style. It is very descriptive and well laid-out. The author provides numerous ‘real-life’ analogies prior to explaining the related physics with exercises, and actually does it quite well. However, the text at times seemed convoluted in explaining the physical processes, and there was a bit too much description. Nonetheless, the book is up-to-date, with many references, and can be used as a handbook.


There are minor discrepancies in the book, and grammatical errors. Moreover, there is a slight overlap between chapters, although this is useful as an aide-memoire. Also, there are plenty of illustrations to accompany the text, and each does paint a thousand words!


The book is, in my opinion, a very good text for the prospective readers, with a good price tag for a hardback. I would recommend this book to a department library and generally to medical specialists interested in the science and technology of medical imaging.


Reviewed by Usman I. Lula

Poole General Hospital NHS Trust, UK