An algorithm to estimate the object support in truncated images

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Abstract

Purpose:

Truncation artifacts in CT occur if the object to be imaged extends past the scanner field of view (SFOV). These artifacts impede diagnosis and could possibly introduce errors in dose plans for radiation therapy. Several approaches exist for correcting truncation artifacts, but existing correction algorithms do not accurately recover the skin line (or support) of the patient, which is important in some dose planning methods. The purpose of this paper was to develop an iterative algorithm that recovers the support of the object.

Methods:

The authors assume that the truncated portion of the image is made up of soft tissue of uniform CT number and attempt to find a shape consistent with the measured data. Each known measurement in the sinogram is interpreted as an estimate of missing mass along a line. An initial estimate of the object support is generated by thresholding a reconstruction made using a previous truncation artifact correction algorithm (e.g., water cylinder extrapolation). This object support is iteratively deformed to reduce the inconsistency with the measured data. The missing data are estimated using this object support to complete the dataset. The method was tested on simulated and experimentally truncated CT data.

Results:

The proposed algorithm produces a better defined skin line than water cylinder extrapolation. On the experimental data, the RMS error of the skin line is reduced by about 60%. For moderately truncated images, some soft tissue contrast is retained near the SFOV. As the extent of truncation increases, the soft tissue contrast outside the SFOV becomes unusable although the skin line remains clearly defined, and in reformatted images it varies smoothly from slice to slice as expected.

Conclusions:

The support recovery algorithm provides a more accurate estimate of the patient outline than thresholded, basic water cylinder extrapolation, and may be preferred in some radiation therapy applications.

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