TU-G-204-07: A Research Pipeline to Simulate a Wide Range of CT Image Acquisition and Reconstruction Parameters and Assess the Performance of Quantitative Imaging and CAD Systems




Quantitative Imaging and CAD tasks performed with CT (e.g. lung nodule detection, assessment of tumor size, etc.) may be sensitive to image acquisition and reconstruction parameters such as dose level, image thickness and reconstruction method (FBP, iterative, etc.). The purpose of this work was to develop a research pipeline for generating CT image series that represent a wide variety of acquisition and reconstruction conditions under which CAD and Quantitative Imaging performance would be evaluated.


With IRB approval, we have collected the raw CT data from hundreds of patients. These raw sinogram files serve as the input to the research pipeline. To simulate a wide range of dose levels, we developed software which adds noise to the sinogram. Multiple reduced-dose sinograms can be generated for a single patient, and those reduced-dose sinograms are then fed either to the scanner's reconstruction engine or to our in-house reconstruction engine; each has conventional filtered back projection (FBP) and iterative reconstruction methods. After generating image series across a range of dose levels and reconstruction methods, we can evaluate the performance of various quantitative imaging or CAD tools in tasks such as automated and semi-automated lesion segmentation, assessment of lesion size, and measurement of density or texture.


We have successfully applied this pipeline across a range of clinical CT applications, including: (1) chest oncology, where the pipeline was used to quantify the effects of dose and reconstruction method on nodule volumetry, and (2) lung cancer screening, where the pipeline is being used to measure the robustness of an automated CAD algorithm with respect to dose.


The acquisition/reconstruction pipeline shows promise for investigating and quantifying the effects of dose and reconstruction method on various clinical CT applications.

NCI grant U01 CA181156 (Quantitative Imaging Network); Tobacco Related Disease Research Project grant 22RT-0131.