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Low-dose x-ray CT simulation from an available higher-dose scan

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

In computed tomography (CT)-imaging an optimal compromise between the radiation burden and the image quality for the imaging task is needed. Lower-dose CT is desirable, however, lowering the dose results in a lower signal-to-noise ratio and therefore in a reduced image quality. In this research, we aim to develop a tool to simulate lower-dose scans from an existing standard-dose scan. The main application of this tool is to determine the lowest possible radiation dose that still produces sufficient clinical information. The x-ray tube current reduction is modeled by estimating the noise equivalent number of photons in the high exposure scan and applying a thinning technique to reduce that number. The proposed method accounts for the bowtie filter, for the electronic system noise, for the noise correlation between neighboring detector elements, for the beam hardening effect, and for the non-linear smoothing filter in very low-dose scans. Several phantom studies with different acquisition protocols were performed to evaluate the accuracy of the proposed framework. The results demonstrate a close agreement between the noise magnitude and texture of the measured and the simulated lower-dose scans. For instance, the standard deviation of noise in the simulation of lower-dose scans with 90% tube current reduction matches the reconstructions from the real scans with less than 1% and 3% error for sequential and helical scans, respectively. The noise texture was also assessed by analyzing the noise power spectrum of the simulated lower-dose images which matches those from the real scans. Furthermore, the relation between the measured and predicted noise in projection domain is very close to the line of identity which confirms the accuracy of the model.
Journal: Physics in Medicine and Biology
ISSN: 0031-9155
Issue: 13
Volume: 65
Publication year:2020