Purpose: Four-dimensional computed tomography (4DCT) has been widely used in cancer radiotherapy for accurate target delineation and motion measurement for tumors in the thorax and upper abdomen areas. However, its prolonged scanning duration causes a considerable increase of radiation dose compared to conventional CT, which is a major concern in its clinical application. This work is to develop a new algorithm to reconstruct 4DCT images from undersampled projections acquired at low mA s levels in order to reduce the imaging dose. Methods: Conventionally, each phase of 4DCT is reconstructed independently using the filtered backprojection (FBP) algorithm. The basic idea of the authors' new algorithm is that by utilizing the common information among different phases, the input information required to reconstruct the image of high quality, and thus the imaging dose, can be reduced. The authors proposed a temporal nonlocal means (TNLM) method to explore the interphase similarity. All phases of the 4DCT images are reconstructed simultaneously by minimizing a cost function consisting of a data fidelity term and a TNLM regularization term. The authors utilized a modified forward-backward splitting algorithm and a Gauss-Jacobi iteration method to efficiently solve the minimization problem. The algorithm was also implemented on a graphics processing unit (GPU) to improve the computational speed. The authors' reconstruction algorithm has been tested on a digital NCAT thorax phantom in three low dose scenarios: All projections with low mA s level, undersampled projections with high mA s level, and undersampled projections with low mA s level. Results: In all three low dose scenarios, the new algorithm generates visually much better CT images containing less image noise and streaking artifacts compared to the standard FBP algorithm. Quantitative analysis shows that by comparing the authors' TNLM algorithm to the standard FBP algorithm, the contrast-to-noise ratio has been improved by a factor of 3.9-10.2 and the signal-to-noise ratio has been improved by a factor of 2.1-5.9, depending on the cases. In the situation of undersampled projection data, the majority of the streaks in the images reconstructed by FBP can be suppressed using the authors' algorithm. The total reconstruction time for all ten phases of a slice ranges from 40 to 90 s on an NVIDIA Tesla C1060 GPU card. Conclusions: The experimental results indicate that the authors' new algorithm outperforms the conventional FBP algorithm in effectively reducing the image artifacts due to undersampling and suppressing the image noise due to the low mA s level.
- 4DCT reconstruction
- dose reduction
- temporal nonlocal means
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging