Mammography and breast CT are important tools for breast cancer screening and diagnosis. Current implementations are limited by scattered radiation and/or spatial resolution. In this work, we propose and develop a slot scan-based system to be used in both mammography and CT mode that can limit scatter and collect sparse CT data for improved image quality at low radiation exposures. Monte Carlo simulations of an anthropomorphic breast phantom show a factor of 10 reduction in scattering amplitude with our slot scan-based system compared to that of a full-field detector mammography system (area mode). Similarly, slot-scan improved the MTF (particularly the low-frequency response) compared to an area detector. Investigation of sparse CT sampling with doubly sparse acquisition data return better quality reconstruction, for which our slot-scanning system is capable, over angle-only projection. Thus, a system with the combined ability for slot-scanning mammography and slot-scanning breast CT has the potential to deliver improved dose-efficient imaging performance and become viable breast cancer screening and diagnostic tools.
Quantitative estimation of contrast agent concentration is made possible by spectral CT and material decomposition. There are several approaches to modulate the sensitivity of the imaging system to obtain the different spectral channels required for decomposition. Spectral CT technologies that enable this varied sensitivity include source kV-switching, dual-layer detectors, and source-side filtering (e.g., tiled spatial-spectral filters). In this work, we use an advanced physical model to simulate these three spectral CT strategies as well as hybrid acquisitions using all combinations of two or three strategies. We apply model-based material decomposition to a water-iodine phantom with iodine concentrations from 0.1 to 5.0 mg/mL. We present bias-noise plots for the different combinations of spectral techniques and show that combined approaches permit diversity in spectral sensitivity and improve low concentration imaging performance relative to the those strategies applied individually. Better ability to estimate low concentrations of contrast agent has the potential to reduce risks associated with contrast administration (by lowering dosage) or to extend imaging applications into targets with much lower uptake.
Model-based material decomposition (MBMD) directly estimates the material densities from the spectral CT data and has found opportunities for dose reduction via physical and statistical modeling and advanced regularization. However, image properties of material basis volumes can be complex. For example, spatial resolution, noise, and cross-talk can depend on acquisition parameters, regularization, patient size, and anatomical target. In this work, we propose a set of prospective prediction tools for the generalized local impulse response (LIR) that characterizes both in-basis spatial resolution and cross-basis response, as well as noise correlation. The accuracy of noise predictor was validated in a simulation study, comparing predicted and measured in- and cross-basis noise correlations. Employing these predictors, we composed a specialized regularization for cross-talk reduction and showed that such prediction tools are promising for task-based optimization in spectral CT applications.
In this work, we present a novel model-based material decomposition (MBMD) approach for x-ray CT that includes system blur in the measurement model. Such processing has the potential to extend spatial resolution in material density estimates - particularly in systems where different spectral channels exhibit different spatial resolutions. We illustrate this new approach for a dual-layer detector x-ray CT and compare MBMD algorithms with and without blur in the reconstruction forward model. Both qualitative and quantitative comparisons of performance with and without blur modeling are reported. We find that blur modeling yields images with better recovery of high-resolution structures in an investigation of reconstructed line pairs as well as lower cross-talk bias between material bases that is ordinarily found due to mismatches in spatial resolution between spectral channels. The extended spatial resolution of the material decompositions has potential application in a range of high-resolution clinical tasks and spectral CT systems where spectral channels exhibit different spatial resolutions.
Volume-of-interest (VOI) imaging is a strategy in computed tomography (CT) that restricts x-ray fluence to particular anatomical targets via dynamic beam modulation. This permits dose reduction while retaining image quality within the VOI. VOI-CT implementation has been challenged, in part, by a lack of hardware solutions for tailoring the incident fluence to the patient and anatomical site, as well as difficulties involving interior tomography reconstruction of truncated projection data. We propose a general VOI-CT imaging framework using multiple aperture devices (MADs), an emerging beam filtration scheme based on two binary x-ray filters. Location of the VOI is prescribed using two scout views at anterior–posterior (AP) and lateral perspectives. Based on a calibration of achievable fluence field patterns, MAD motion trajectories were designed using an optimization objective that seeks to maximize the relative fluence in the VOI subject to minimum fluence constraints. A modified penalized-likelihood method is developed for reconstruction of heavily truncated data using the full-field scout views to help solve the interior tomography problem. Physical experiments were conducted to show the feasibility of noncentered and elliptical VOI in two applications—spine and lung imaging. Improved dose utilization and retained image quality are validated with respect to standard full-field protocols. We observe that the contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) is 40% higher compared with low-dose full-field scans at the same dose. The total dose reduction is 50% for equivalent image quality (CNR) within the VOI.
Spectral CT is an emerging modality that uses a data acquisition scheme with varied spectral responses to provide enhanced material discrimination in addition to the structural information of conventional CT. Existing clinical and preclinical designs with this capability include kV-switching, split-filtration, and dual-layer detector systems to provide two spectral channels of projection data. In this work, we examine an alternate design based on a spatialspectral filter. This source-side filter is made up a linear array of materials that divide the incident x-ray beam into spectrally varied beamlets. This design allows for any number of spectral channels; however, each individual channel is sparse in the projection domain. Model-based iterative reconstruction methods can accommodate such sparse spatialspectral sampling patterns and allow for the incorporation of advanced regularization. With the goal of an optimized physical design, we characterize the effects of design parameters including filter tile order and filter tile width and their impact on material decomposition performance. We present results of numerical simulations that characterize the impact of each design parameter using a realistic CT geometry and noise model to demonstrate feasibility. Results for filter tile order show little change indicating that filter order is a low-priority design consideration. We observe improved performance for narrower filter widths; however, the performance drop-off is relatively flat indicating that wider filter widths are also feasible designs.
Spectral CT is an emerging modality that permits material decomposition and density estimation through the use of energy-dependent information in measurements. Direct model-based material decomposition algorithms have been developed that incorporate statistical models and advanced regularization schemes to improve density estimates and lower exposure requirements. However, understanding and control of the relationship between regularization and image properties is complex with interactions between spectral channels and material bases. In particular, regularization in one material basis can affect the image properties of other material bases, and vice versa. In this work, we derived a closed-form set of local impulse responses for the solutions to a general, regularized, model-based material decomposition (MBMD) objective. These predictors quantify both the spatial resolution in each material image as well as the influence of regularization of one material basis on other material images. This information can be used prospectively to tune regularization parameters for specific imaging goals.
Volume-of-interest (VOI) imaging is a strategy in computed tomography (CT) that restricts x-ray fluence to particular anatomical targets via dynamic beam modulation. This permits dose reduction while retaining image quality within the VOI. VOI-CT implementation has been challenged historically by a lack of hardware solutions for tailoring the incident fluence to the patient and anatomical site as well as challenges involving interior tomography reconstruction of truncated projection data. In this work, we propose a general VOI-CT imaging framework using multiple aperture devices (MADs), an emerging beam filtration scheme based on two binary x-ray filters. Location of VOI is prescribed using two scout views at anterior-posterior (AP) and lateral perspectives. Based on a calibration of achievable fluence field patterns, MAD motion trajectories designed using an optimization objective that seeks to maximize the relative fluence in the VOI subject to minimum fluence constraints. A modified penalized-likelihood method is developed for reconstruction of heavily truncated data using the full-field scout views to help solve the interior tomography problem. Physical experiments were con- ducted to show the feasibility of non-centered and elliptical VOI in two applications - spine and lung imaging. Improved dose utilization and retained image quality is validated with respect to standard full-field protocols. Compared with full-field scans at reference dose, the MAD-VOI scans reduced total dose by 80% while retaining image quality. We observe that the contrast-to-noise ratio is 30% higher compared with low-dose full-field scans at the same dose usage.
Purpose: Model based iterative reconstruction (MBIR) algorithms such as penalized-likelihood (PL) methods have data-dependent and shift-variant image properties. Predictors of local reconstructed noise and resolution have found application in a number of methods that seek to understand, control, and optimize CT data acquisition and reconstruction parameters in a prospective fashion (as opposed to studies based on exhaustive evaluation). However, previous MBIR prediction methods have relied on idealized system models. In this work, we develop and validate new predictors using accurate physical models specific to flat-panel CT systems.
Methods: Novel predictors for estimation of local spatial resolution and noise properties are developed for PL reconstruction that include a physical model for blur and correlated noise in flat-panel cone-beam CT (CBCT) acquisitions. Prospective predictions (e.g., without reconstruction) of local point spread function and and local noise power spectrum (NPS) model are applied, compared, and validated using a flat-panel CBCT test bench. Imaging conditions investigated include two acquisition strategies (an unmodulated X-ray technique and automatic exposure control) as well as varying regularization strength.
Results: Comparisons between prediction and physical measurements show excellent agreement for both spatial resolution and noise properties. In comparison, traditional prediction methods (that ignore blur/correlation found in flat-panel data) fail to capture important data characteristics and show significant mismatch.
Conclusion: Novel image property predictors permit prospective assessment of flat-panel CBCT using MBIR. Such predictors enable standard and task-based performance assessments, and are well-suited to evaluation, control, and optimization of the CT imaging chain (e.g., x-ray technique, reconstruction parameters, novel data acquisition methods, etc.) for improved imaging performance and/or dose utilization.