Noise correlation in CBCT projection data and its application for noise reduction in low-dose CBCT

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Abstract

Purpose:

To study the noise correlation properties of cone-beam CT (CBCT) projection data and to incorporate the noise correlation information to a statistics-based projection restoration algorithm for noise reduction in low-dose CBCT.

Methods:

In this study, the authors systematically investigated the noise correlation properties among detector bins of CBCT projection data by analyzing repeated projection measurements. The measurements were performed on a TrueBeam onboard CBCT imaging system with a 4030CB flat panel detector. An anthropomorphic male pelvis phantom was used to acquire 500 repeated projection data at six different dose levels from 0.1 to 1.6 mAs per projection at three fixed angles. To minimize the influence of the lag effect, lag correction was performed on the consecutively acquired projection data. The noise correlation coefficient between detector bin pairs was calculated from the corrected projection data. The noise correlation among CBCT projection data was then incorporated into the covariance matrix of the penalized weighted least-squares (PWLS) criterion for noise reduction of low-dose CBCT.

Results:

The analyses of the repeated measurements show that noise correlation coefficients are nonzero between the nearest neighboring bins of CBCT projection data. The average noise correlation coefficients for the first- and second-order neighbors are 0.20 and 0.06, respectively. The noise correlation coefficients are independent of the dose level. Reconstruction of the pelvis phantom shows that the PWLS criterion with consideration of noise correlation (PWLS-Cor) results in a lower noise level as compared to the PWLS criterion without considering the noise correlation (PWLS-Dia) at the matched resolution. At the 2.0 mm resolution level in the axial-plane noise resolution tradeoff analysis, the noise level of the PWLS-Cor reconstruction is 6.3% lower than that of the PWLS-Dia reconstruction.

Conclusions:

Noise is correlated among nearest neighboring detector bins of CBCT projection data. An accurate noise model of CBCT projection data can improve the performance of the statistics-based projection restoration algorithm for low-dose CBCT.

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