Understanding Line Pairs per Millimeter

Line Pairs per millimeter or LP/mm is a resolution measurement commonly used to evaluate digital radiography sensors. LP/mm is a measurement of spatial resolution, that is how small a space can you perceive. Spatial resolution is important if you want to see a very small item such as the tip of an endo file on a radiograph. It is not so important if you are looking for subtle changes in the density of enamel.

A line pair gauge like this one shows five line pairs (one dark and one light) converging together into a smaller and smaller space eventually reaching a maximum of 20 LP/mm. It is important to note the gauge only goes to 20. If a radiography vendor tells you that his or her sensor has a LP/mm of 23 or 26 one of two things is happening. They are mistaken or they are quoting a theoretical measurement based on pixel size.

Te problem with theoretical is that it is well… theoretical. The actual performance is always less, sometimes a lot less, that the theoretical upper limit. As a result the only reliable measurement of LP/mm is an actual test using the gauge and the highest possible score is > (greater than) 20.

In actual testing sensors range from as low as 8 to >20.

It is also important to note that in order for a human eye to actually see 20 or greater LP/mm the image must be magnified. Good spatial resolution is a result of both a high-quality sensor and well designed software that can display the image in an appropriate way. Some software enhancement tools such as sharpening may actually decrease LP/mm.

Some radiography vendors have made the claim that LP/mm is not an important measurement. In fact it is important for some things and not for others. It is important if you are trying to see the tip of a #8 file or a pattern of bone trabeculation. It is not important if you are trying to see incipient decay.

Thanks to Doug Yoon  at XDR Radiography

385 replies on “Understanding Line Pairs per Millimeter”

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