Purpose: We investigate an application of multisource extremity Cone-Beam CT (CBCT) with capability of weight-bearing tomographic imaging to obtain quantitative measurements of load-induced deformation of metal internal fixation hardware (e.g. tibial plate). Such measurements are desirable to improve the detection of delayed fusion or non-union of fractures, potentially facilitating earlier return to weight-bearing activities. Methods: To measure the deformation, we perform a deformable 3D-2D registration of a prior model of the implant to its CBCT projections under load-bearing. This Known-Component Registration (KC-Reg) framework avoids potential errors that emerge when the deformation is estimated directly from 3D reconstructions with metal artifacts. The 3D-2D registration involves a free-form deformable (FFD) point cloud model of the implant and a 3D cubic B-spline representation of the deformation. Gradient correlation is used as the optimization metric for the registration. The proposed approach was tested in experimental studies on the extremity CBCT system. A custom jig was designed to apply controlled axial loads to a fracture model, emulating weight-bearing imaging scenarios. Performance evaluation involved a Sawbone tibia phantom with an ~4 mm fracture gap. The model was fixed with a locking plate and imaged under five loading conditions. To investigate performance in the presence of confounding background gradients, additional experiments were performed with a pre-deformed femoral plate placed in a water bath with Ca bone mineral density inserts. Errors were measured using eight reference BBs for the tibial plate, and surface point distances for the femoral plate, where a prior model of deformed implant was available for comparison. Results: Both in the loaded tibial plate case and for the femoral plate with confounding background gradients, the proposed KC-Reg framework estimated implant deformations with errors of <0.2 mm for the majority of the investigated deformation magnitudes (error range 0.14 - 0.25 mm). The accuracy was comparable between 3D-2D registrations performed from 12 x-ray views and registrations obtained from as few as 3 views. This was likely enabled by the unique three-source x-ray unit on the extremity CBCT scanner, which implements two off-central-plane focal spots that provided oblique views of the field-of-view to aid implant pose estimation. Conclusion: Accurate measurements of fracture hardware deformations under physiological weight-bearing are feasible using an extremity CBCT scanner and FFD 3D-2D registration. The resulting deformed implant models can be incorporated into tomographic reconstructions to reduce metal artifacts and improve quantification of the mineral content of fracture callus in CBCT volumes.
Dual energy computed tomography (DE CT) is a promising technology for the assessment of bone compositions. One of potential applications involves evaluations of fracture healing using longitudinal measurements of callus mineralization. However, imaging of fractures is often challenged by the presence of metal fixation hardware. In this work, we report on a new simultaneous DE reconstruction-decomposition algorithm that integrates the previously introduced Model-Based Material Decomposition (MBMD) with a Known-Component (KC) framework to mitigate metal artifacts. The algorithm was applied to the DE data obtained on a dedicated extremity cone-beam CT (CBCT) with capability for weight-bearing imaging. To acquire DE projections in a single gantry rotation, we exploited a unique multisource design of the system, where three X-ray sources were mounted parallel to the axis of rotation. The central source provided high energy (HE) data at 120 kVp, while the two remaining sources were operated at a low energy (LE) of 60 kVp. This novel acquisition trajectory further motivates the use of MBMD to accommodate this complex DE sampling pattern. The algorithm was validated in a simulation study using a digital extremity phantom. The phantom consisted of a water background with an insert containing varying concentrations of calcium (50 – 175 mg/mL). Two configurations of titanium implants were considered: a fixation plate and an intramedullary nail. The accuracy of calcium-water decompositions obtained with the proposed KC-MBMD algorithm was compared to MBMD without metal component model. Metal artifacts were almost completely removed by KC-MBMD. Relative absolute errors of calcium concentration in the vicinity of metal were 6% - 31% for KC-MBMD (depending on the calcium insert and implant configuration), compared favorably to 48% - 273% for MBMD. Moreover, accuracy of concentration estimates for KC-MBMD in the presence of metal implant approached that of MBMD in a configuration without implant (6%-23%). The proposed algorithm achieved accurate DE material decomposition in the presence of metal implants using a non-conventional, axial multisource DE acquisition pattern.