A microbeam grazing-incidence approach to L-shell x-ray fluorescence measurements of lead concentration in bone and soft tissue phantoms
Objective: L-shell x-ray fluorescence (LXRF) is a non-invasive approach to lead (Pb) concentration measurements in the human bone. The first studies were published in the early 1980s. In the same period the K-shell x-ray fluorescence (KXRF) method using a Cd-109 radionuclide source was developed and later improved and refined. Lower sensitivity and calibration difficulties associated with the LXRF method led the KXRF to be the most adopted method for in vivo human bone Pb studies. In the present study a microbeam-based grazing-incidence approach to Pb LXRF measurements was investigated. Approach: The microbeam produced by an integrated x-ray tube and polycapillary x-ray lens (PXL) unit was used to excite cylindrical plaster-of-Paris (poP) bone phantoms doped with Pb in seven concentrations: 0, 8, 16, 29, 44, 59, and 74 µg g−1. Two 1 mm- and 3 mm-thick cylindrical shell soft tissue phantoms were made out of polyoxymethylene (POM) plastic. Three bone-soft tissue phantom sets corresponding to the 0, 1, and 3 mm POM thickness values resulted. Each phantom was placed between the microbeam and the detector; its position was controlled using a positioning stage. Small steps (0.1–0.5 mm) and short 30 s x-ray spectra acquisitions were used to find the optimal phantom position according to the maximum observed Sr Kα peak height. At the optimal geometry, five 180 s x-ray spectra were acquired for each phantom set. Calibration lines were obtained using the fitted peak heights of the two observed Pb Lα and Pb Lβ peaks. Main results: The lowest detection limit (DL) values were (2.9 ± 0.2), (4.9 ± 0.3), and (23 ± 3) µg g−1, respectively. The order of magnitude of the absorbed radiation dose in the POM plastic for the 180 s irradiation was estimated to be <1 mGy. Significance: The results are superior to a relatively recently published LXRF phantom study and show promise for future designs of in vivo LXRF measurements.