In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in replacing digital subtraction angiography (DSA) as method of choice for the diagnostic imaging of patients suffering from lower extremity peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Due to small vessel diameters and suboptimal resolution, examinations of below-the-knee arteries however remain extremely challenging. The advent of wide beam CT scanners allows to perform multiple CT acquisitions over a wide patient volume. A sequence of these CT acquisitions at timed intervals could provide additional hemodynamic information, and as such allows to track a contrast bolus that propagates through the arterial conduit. The aim of this study was to evaluate the accuracy and precision of ow velocity measurements using time-resolved computed tomography angiography (CTA). To this end, we constructed a mechanical ow phantom (single lumen, 6 mm inner-diameter). Six consecutive time-resolved CTA acquisitions were performed at a constant ow rate to achieve six reference velocities (21.2 mm/s, 38.9 mm/s, 60.1 mm/s, 81.4 mm/s, 99.0 mm/s and 120.3 mm/s). The mean centerline ow velocity was obtained from the contrast propagation over three different segmental lengths (160 mm, 80 mm and 40 mm) and then compared to the reference ow velocity. The results of this study suggest that mean ow velocities within the range of typical blood ow velocities in the below-the-knee arteries (40 mm/s - 70 mm/s), can be accurately measured with high precision in a 6 mm ow phantom using time-resolved CTA when considering a minimal path length of 80 mm.
Coronary artery calcification (CAC) is a strong and independent predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) that can be quantified in CT scans showing the heart. CAC lesions are defined as lesions in the coronary arteries with image intensity above 130 HU. The use of a threshold may lead to under- or over-estimation of the amount of CAC and, hence, to incorrect cardiovascular categorization of patients. This is especially pronounced in CT scans without ECG-synchronization where lesions are more subject to cardiac motion and partial volume effects. To address this, we propose a method for quantification of CAC without a threshold. A set of 373 cardiac and 1181 chest CT scans was included to develop the method and a set of 21 scan-rescan pairs (42 scans) was included for final evaluation. Assuming that the attenuation of CAC is superimposed on the attenuation of the artery, we aimed to separate the CAC from the coronary arteries by employing a CycleGAN to generate a synthetic image without CAC from an image containing CAC and vice versa. By subtracting the synthetic image without CAC from the image with CAC, a CAC map is created. The CAC-map can subsequently be used to identify and quantify CAC. The ground truth, i.e. the true amount of CAC, can not be established, therefore, in this work the results generated by the method are compared with clinical calcium scoring in terms of reproducibility. The average relative difference between the calcium scores in scan-rescan pairs of scans was 50% with the proposed method and 86% for the conventional method. Moreover, the correlation between CAC pseudo masses in scan-rescan pairs was 0.92 with the proposed method and 0.89 with conventional calcium scoring. Our proposed method is able to identify and quantify CAC lesions in CT scans without using an intensity level thresholding. This might allow for more reproducible quantification of CAC in CT scans made without ECG synchronization, and, therefore, it might allow more accurate CVD risk prediction.
Accurate segmentation of the left ventricle myocardium in cardiac CT angiography (CCTA) is essential for e.g. the assessment of myocardial perfusion. Automatic deep learning methods for segmentation in CCTA might suffer from differences in contrast-agent attenuation between training and test data due to non-standardized contrast administration protocols and varying cardiac output. We propose augmentation of the training data with virtual mono-energetic reconstructions from a spectral CT scanner which show different attenuation levels of the contrast agent. We compare this to an augmentation by linear scaling of all intensity values, and combine both types of augmentation. We train a 3D fully convolutional network (FCN) with 10 conventional CCTA images and corresponding virtual mono-energetic reconstructions acquired on a spectral CT scanner, and evaluate on 40 CCTA scans acquired on a conventional CT scanner. We show that training with data augmentation using virtual mono-energetic images improves upon training with only conventional images (Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) 0.895 ± 0.039 vs. 0.846 ± 0.125). In comparison, training with data augmentation using linear scaling improves the DSC to 0.890 ± 0.039. Moreover, combining the results of both augmentation methods leads to a DSC of 0.901 ± 0.036, showing that both augmentations lead to different local improvements of the segmentations. Our results indicate that virtual mono-energetic images improve the generalization of an FCN used for myocardium segmentation in CCTA images.
CT attenuation correction (CTAC) images acquired with PET/CT visualize coronary artery calcium (CAC) and enable CAC quantification. CAC scores acquired with CTAC have been suggested as a marker of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In this work, an algorithm previously developed for automatic CAC scoring in dedicated cardiac CT was applied to automatic CAC detection in CTAC. The study included 134 consecutive patients undergoing 82-Rb PET/CT. Low-dose rest CTAC scans were acquired (100 kV, 11 mAs, 1.4mm×1.4mm×3mm voxel size). An experienced observer defined the reference standard with the clinically used intensity level threshold for calcium identification (130 HU). Five scans were removed from analysis due to artifacts. The algorithm extracted potential CAC by intensity-based thresholding and 3D connected component labeling. Each candidate was described by location, size, shape and intensity features. An ensemble of extremely randomized decision trees was used to identify CAC. The data set was randomly divided into training and test sets. Automatically identified CAC was quantified using volume and Agatston scores. In 33 test scans, the system detected on average 469mm3/730mm3 (64%) of CAC with 36mm3 false positive volume per scan. The intraclass correlation coefficient for volume scores was 0.84. Each patient was assigned to one of four CVD risk categories based on the Agatston score (0-10, 11-100, 101-400, <400). The correct CVD category was assigned to 85% of patients (Cohen's linearly weighted κ0.82). Automatic detection of CVD risk based on CAC scoring in rest CTAC images is feasible. This may enable large scale studies evaluating clinical value of CAC scoring in CTAC data.
Presence of coronary artery calcium (CAC) is a strong and independent predictor of cardiovascular events. We present a system using a forest of extremely randomized trees to automatically identify and quantify CAC in routinely acquired cardiac non-contrast enhanced CT. Candidate lesions the system could not label with high certainty were automatically identified and presented to an expert who could relabel them to achieve high scoring accuracy with minimal effort. The study included 200 consecutive non-contrast enhanced ECG-triggered cardiac CTs (120 kV, 55 mAs, 3 mm section thickness). Expert CAC annotations made as part of the clinical routine served as the reference standard. CAC candidates were extracted by thresholding (130 HU) and 3-D connected component analysis. They were described by shape, intensity and spatial features calculated using multi-atlas segmentation of coronary artery centerlines from ten CTA scans. CAC was identified using a randomized decision tree ensemble classifier in a ten-fold stratified cross-validation experiment and quantified in Agatston and volume scores for each patient. After classification, candidates with posterior probability indicating uncertain labeling were selected for further assessment by an expert. Images with metal implants were excluded. In the remaining 164 images, Spearman's p between automatic and reference scores was 0.94 for both Agatston and volume scores. On average 1.8 candidate lesions per scan were subsequently presented to an expert. After correction, Spearman's p was 0.98. We have described a system for automatic CAC scoring in cardiac CT images which is able to effectively select difficult examinations for further refinement by an expert.
Conference Committee Involvement (1)
14 February 2021 | San Diego, California, United States