Filters in Radiography

At x-ray energies, filters consist of material placed in the useful beam to absorb, preferentially, radiation based on energy level or to modify the spatial distribution of the beam. Filtration is required to absorb the lower-energy x-ray photons emitted by the tube before they reach the target. The use of filters produce a cleaner image by absorbing the lower energy x-ray photons that tend to scatter more.

The total filtration of the beam includes the inherent filtration (composed of part of the x-ray tube and tube housing) and the added filtration (thin sheets of a metal inserted in the x-ray beam). Filters are typically placed at or near the x-ray port in the direct path of the x-ray beam. Placing a thin sheet of copper between the part and the film cassette has also proven an effective method of filtration.

For industrial radiography, the filters added to the x-ray beam are most often constructed of high atomic number materials such as lead, copper, or brass. Filters for medical radiography are usually made of aluminum (Al). The amount of both the inherent and the added filtration are stated in mm of Al or mm of Al equivalent. The amount of filtration of the x-ray beam is specified by and based on the voltage potential (keV) used to produce the beam. The thickness of filter materials is dependent on atomic numbers, kilovoltage settings, and the desired filtration factor.

Gamma radiography produces relatively high energy levels at essentially monochromatic radiation, therefore filtration is not a useful technique and is seldom used.