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Dose reduction and image enhancement in micro‐CT using deep learning

(2023) MEDICAL PHYSICS. 50(9). p.5643-5656
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Abstract
BackgroundIn preclinical settings, micro-computed tomography (CT) provides a powerful tool to acquire high resolution anatomical images of rodents and offers the advantage to in vivo non-invasively assess disease progression and therapy efficacy. Much higher resolutions are needed to achieve scale-equivalent discriminatory capabilities in rodents as those in humans. High resolution imaging however comes at the expense of increased scan times and higher doses. Specifically, with preclinical longitudinal imaging, there are concerns that dose accumulation may affect experimental outcomes of animal models. PurposeDose reduction efforts under the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principles are thus a key point of attention. However, low dose CT acquisitions inherently induce higher noise levels which deteriorate image quality and negatively impact diagnostic performance. Many denoising techniques already exist, and deep learning (DL) has become increasingly popular for image denoising, but research has mostly focused on clinical CT with limited studies conducted on preclinical CT imaging. We investigate the potential of convolutional neural networks (CNN) for restoring high quality micro-CT images from low dose (noisy) images. The novelty of the CNN denoising frameworks presented in this work consists of utilizing image pairs with realistic CT noise present in the input as well as the target image used for the model training; a noisier image acquired with a low dose protocol is matched to a less noisy image acquired with a higher dose scan of the same mouse. MethodsLow and high dose ex vivo micro-CT scans of 38 mice were acquired. Two CNN models, based on a 2D and 3D four-layer U-Net, were trained with mean absolute error (30 training, 4 validation and 4 test sets). To assess denoising performance, ex vivo mice and phantom data were used. Both CNN approaches were compared to existing methods, like spatial filtering (Gaussian, Median, Wiener) and iterative total variation image reconstruction algorithm. Image quality metrics were derived from the phantom images. A first observer study (n = 23) was set-up to rank overall quality of differently denoised images. A second observer study (n = 18) estimated the dose reduction factor of the investigated 2D CNN method. ResultsVisual and quantitative results show that both CNN algorithms exhibit superior performance in terms of noise suppression, structural preservation and contrast enhancement over comparator methods. The quality scoring by 23 medical imaging experts also indicates that the investigated 2D CNN approach is consistently evaluated as the best performing denoising method. Results from the second observer study and quantitative measurements suggest that CNN-based denoising could offer a 2-4x dose reduction, with an estimated dose reduction factor of about 3.2 for the considered 2D network. ConclusionsOur results demonstrate the potential of DL in micro-CT for higher quality imaging at low dose acquisition settings. In the context of preclinical research, this offers promising future prospects for managing the cumulative severity effects of radiation in longitudinal studies.
Keywords
General Medicine, convolutional neural networks, deep learning, dose reduction, image, denoising, micro-computed tomography, COMPUTED-TOMOGRAPHY, NOISE-REDUCTION, NETWORKS

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MLA
Muller, Florence Marie, et al. “Dose Reduction and Image Enhancement in Micro‐CT Using Deep Learning.” MEDICAL PHYSICS, vol. 50, no. 9, 2023, pp. 5643–56, doi:10.1002/mp.16385.
APA
Muller, F. M., Maebe, J., Vanhove, C., & Vandenberghe, S. (2023). Dose reduction and image enhancement in micro‐CT using deep learning. MEDICAL PHYSICS, 50(9), 5643–5656. https://doi.org/10.1002/mp.16385
Chicago author-date
Muller, Florence Marie, Jens Maebe, Christian Vanhove, and Stefaan Vandenberghe. 2023. “Dose Reduction and Image Enhancement in Micro‐CT Using Deep Learning.” MEDICAL PHYSICS 50 (9): 5643–56. https://doi.org/10.1002/mp.16385.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Muller, Florence Marie, Jens Maebe, Christian Vanhove, and Stefaan Vandenberghe. 2023. “Dose Reduction and Image Enhancement in Micro‐CT Using Deep Learning.” MEDICAL PHYSICS 50 (9): 5643–5656. doi:10.1002/mp.16385.
Vancouver
1.
Muller FM, Maebe J, Vanhove C, Vandenberghe S. Dose reduction and image enhancement in micro‐CT using deep learning. MEDICAL PHYSICS. 2023;50(9):5643–56.
IEEE
[1]
F. M. Muller, J. Maebe, C. Vanhove, and S. Vandenberghe, “Dose reduction and image enhancement in micro‐CT using deep learning,” MEDICAL PHYSICS, vol. 50, no. 9, pp. 5643–5656, 2023.
@article{01GWV66HH06Q19BK4P235RER5G,
  abstract     = {{BackgroundIn preclinical settings, micro-computed tomography (CT) provides a powerful tool to acquire high resolution anatomical images of rodents and offers the advantage to in vivo non-invasively assess disease progression and therapy efficacy. Much higher resolutions are needed to achieve scale-equivalent discriminatory capabilities in rodents as those in humans. High resolution imaging however comes at the expense of increased scan times and higher doses. Specifically, with preclinical longitudinal imaging, there are concerns that dose accumulation may affect experimental outcomes of animal models. PurposeDose reduction efforts under the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principles are thus a key point of attention. However, low dose CT acquisitions inherently induce higher noise levels which deteriorate image quality and negatively impact diagnostic performance. Many denoising techniques already exist, and deep learning (DL) has become increasingly popular for image denoising, but research has mostly focused on clinical CT with limited studies conducted on preclinical CT imaging. We investigate the potential of convolutional neural networks (CNN) for restoring high quality micro-CT images from low dose (noisy) images. The novelty of the CNN denoising frameworks presented in this work consists of utilizing image pairs with realistic CT noise present in the input as well as the target image used for the model training; a noisier image acquired with a low dose protocol is matched to a less noisy image acquired with a higher dose scan of the same mouse. MethodsLow and high dose ex vivo micro-CT scans of 38 mice were acquired. Two CNN models, based on a 2D and 3D four-layer U-Net, were trained with mean absolute error (30 training, 4 validation and 4 test sets). To assess denoising performance, ex vivo mice and phantom data were used. Both CNN approaches were compared to existing methods, like spatial filtering (Gaussian, Median, Wiener) and iterative total variation image reconstruction algorithm. Image quality metrics were derived from the phantom images. A first observer study (n = 23) was set-up to rank overall quality of differently denoised images. A second observer study (n = 18) estimated the dose reduction factor of the investigated 2D CNN method. ResultsVisual and quantitative results show that both CNN algorithms exhibit superior performance in terms of noise suppression, structural preservation and contrast enhancement over comparator methods. The quality scoring by 23 medical imaging experts also indicates that the investigated 2D CNN approach is consistently evaluated as the best performing denoising method. Results from the second observer study and quantitative measurements suggest that CNN-based denoising could offer a 2-4x dose reduction, with an estimated dose reduction factor of about 3.2 for the considered 2D network. ConclusionsOur results demonstrate the potential of DL in micro-CT for higher quality imaging at low dose acquisition settings. In the context of preclinical research, this offers promising future prospects for managing the cumulative severity effects of radiation in longitudinal studies.}},
  author       = {{Muller, Florence Marie and Maebe, Jens and Vanhove, Christian and Vandenberghe, Stefaan}},
  issn         = {{0094-2405}},
  journal      = {{MEDICAL PHYSICS}},
  keywords     = {{General Medicine,convolutional neural networks,deep learning,dose reduction,image,denoising,micro-computed tomography,COMPUTED-TOMOGRAPHY,NOISE-REDUCTION,NETWORKS}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{9}},
  pages        = {{5643--5656}},
  title        = {{Dose reduction and image enhancement in micro‐CT using deep learning}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1002/mp.16385}},
  volume       = {{50}},
  year         = {{2023}},
}

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