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A novel fast helical 4D-CT acquisition technique to generate low-noise sorting artifact-free images at user-selected breathing phases

  • Author(s): Thomas, D
  • Lamb, J
  • White, B
  • Jani, S
  • Gaudio, S
  • Lee, P
  • Ruan, D
  • McNitt-Gray, M
  • Low, D
  • et al.

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Purpose To develop a novel 4-dimensional computed tomography (4D-CT) technique that exploits standard fast helical acquisition, a simultaneous breathing surrogate measurement, deformable image registration, and a breathing motion model to remove sorting artifacts. Methods and Materials Ten patients were imaged under free-breathing conditions 25 successive times in alternating directions with a 64-slice CT scanner using a low-dose fast helical protocol. An abdominal bellows was used as a breathing surrogate. Deformable registration was used to register the first image (defined as the reference image) to the subsequent 24 segmented images. Voxel-specific motion model parameters were determined using a breathing motion model. The tissue locations predicted by the motion model in the 25 images were compared against the deformably registered tissue locations, allowing a model prediction error to be evaluated. A low-noise image was created by averaging the 25 images deformed to the first image geometry, reducing statistical image noise by a factor of 5. The motion model was used to deform the low-noise reference image to any user-selected breathing phase. A voxel-specific correction was applied to correct the Hounsfield units for lung parenchyma density as a function of lung air filling. Results Images produced using the model at user-selected breathing phases did not suffer from sorting artifacts common to conventional 4D-CT protocols. The mean prediction error across all patients between the breathing motion model predictions and the measured lung tissue positions was determined to be 1.19 ± 0.37 mm. Conclusions The proposed technique can be used as a clinical 4D-CT technique. It is robust in the presence of irregular breathing and allows the entire imaging dose to contribute to the resulting image quality, providing sorting artifact-free images at a patient dose similar to or less than current 4D-CT techniques. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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