Towards the clinical implementation of iterative low-dose cone-beam CT reconstruction in image-guided radiation therapy: Cone/ring artifact correction and multiple GPU implementation

Authors


Abstract

Purpose:

Compressed sensing (CS)-based iterative reconstruction (IR) techniques are able to reconstruct cone-beam CT (CBCT) images from undersampled noisy data, allowing for imaging dose reduction. However, there are a few practical concerns preventing the clinical implementation of these techniques. On the image quality side, data truncation along the superior–inferior direction under the cone-beam geometry produces severe cone artifacts in the reconstructed images. Ring artifacts are also seen in the half-fan scan mode. On the reconstruction efficiency side, the long computation time hinders clinical use in image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT).

Methods:

Image quality improvement methods are proposed to mitigate the cone and ring image artifacts in IR. The basic idea is to use weighting factors in the IR data fidelity term to improve projection data consistency with the reconstructed volume. In order to improve the computational efficiency, a multiple graphics processing units (GPUs)-based CS-IR system was developed. The parallelization scheme, detailed analyses of computation time at each step, their relationship with image resolution, and the acceleration factors were studied. The whole system was evaluated in various phantom and patient cases.

Results:

Ring artifacts can be mitigated by properly designing a weighting factor as a function of the spatial location on the detector. As for the cone artifact, without applying a correction method, it contaminated 13 out of 80 slices in a head-neck case (full-fan). Contamination was even more severe in a pelvis case under half-fan mode, where 36 out of 80 slices were affected, leading to poorer soft tissue delineation and reduced superior–inferior coverage. The proposed method effectively corrects those contaminated slices with mean intensity differences compared to FDK results decreasing from ∼497 and ∼293 HU to ∼39 and ∼27 HU for the full-fan and half-fan cases, respectively. In terms of efficiency boost, an overall 3.1 × speedup factor has been achieved with four GPU cards compared to a single GPU-based reconstruction. The total computation time is ∼30 s for typical clinical cases.

Conclusions:

The authors have developed a low-dose CBCT IR system for IGRT. By incorporating data consistency-based weighting factors in the IR model, cone/ring artifacts can be mitigated. A boost in computational efficiency is achieved by multi-GPU implementation.

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