Spatial resolution improvement and dose reduction potential for inner ear CT imaging using a z-axis deconvolution technique

Authors


Abstract

Purpose:

To assess the z-axis resolution improvement and dose reduction potential achieved using a z-axis deconvolution technique with iterative reconstruction (IR) relative to filtered backprojection (FBP) images created with the use of a z-axis comb filter.

Methods:

Each of three phantoms were scanned with two different acquisition modes: (1) an ultrahigh resolution (UHR) scan mode that uses a comb filter in the fan angle direction to increase in-plane spatial resolution and (2) a z-axis ultrahigh spatial resolution (zUHR) scan mode that uses comb filters in both the fan and cone angle directions to improve both in-plane and z-axis spatial resolution. All other scanning parameters were identical. First, the ACR CT Accreditation phantom, rotated by 90° so that the high-contrast spatial resolution targets were parallel to the coronal plane, was scanned to assess limiting spatial resolution and image noise. Second, section sensitivity profiles (SSPs) were measured using a copper foil embedded in an acrylic cylinder and the full-width-at-half-maximum (FWHM) and full-width-at-tenth-maximum (FWTM) of the SSPs were calculated. Third, an anthropomorphic head phantom containing a human skull was scanned to assess clinical acceptability for imaging of the temporal bone. For each scan, FBP images were reconstructed for the zUHR scan using the narrowest image thickness available. For the CT accreditation phantom, zUHR images were also reconstructed using an IR algorithm (SAFIRE, Siemens Healthcare, Forchheim, Germany) to assess the influence of the IR algorithm on image noise. A z-axis deconvolution technique combined with the IR algorithm was used to reconstruct images at the narrowest image thickness possible from the UHR scan data. Images of the ACR and head phantoms were reformatted into the coronal plane. The head phantom images were evaluated by a neuroradiologist to assess acceptability for use in patients undergoing clinically indicated CT imaging of the temporal bone.

Results:

The limiting spatial resolution was 12 lp/cm for the FBP-zUHR images and the IR-UHR images, although visual assessment indicated a slight improvement for the IR-UHR images. Image noise was 213.0, 181.8, and 153.5 for the FBP-zUHR, IR-zUHR, and IR-UHR images, respectively. While the FWHM was essentially the same for the FBP-zUHR and IR-UHR images, the FWTM of the IR-UHR images was almost 50% smaller compared to the FBP-zUHR images (0.83 vs 1.25 mm, respectively). Images of the anthropomorphic head phantom were judged to be of higher quality for the IR-UHR images compared to the FBP-zUHR images.

Conclusions:

With use of a z-axis deconvolution technique, z-axis spatial resolution was improved for scans acquired using a comb filter only in the fan angle direction relative to FBP images acquired with a comb filter in both the fan and cone angle directions. By avoiding use of the comb filter in the cone angle direction and use of an IR algorithm, image noise was substantially reduced for the same scanner output (CTDIvol). Thus, overall image quality (spatial resolution and image noise) can be maintained relative to the FBP-zUHR technique at a lower radiation dose.

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