Bilateral filters have been substantially exploited in numerous magnetic resonance (MR) image restoration applications for decades. Due to the deficiency of theoretical basis on the filter parameter setting, empirical manipulation with fixed values and noise variance-related adjustments has generally been employed. The outcome of these strategies is usually sensitive to the variation of the brain structures and not all the three parameter values are optimal. This article is in an attempt to investigate the optimal setting of the bilateral filter, from which an accelerated and automated restoration framework is developed.Methods
To reduce the computational burden of the bilateral filter, parallel computing with the graphics processing unit (GPU) architecture is first introduced. The NVIDIA Tesla K40c GPU with the compute unified device architecture (CUDA) functionality is specifically utilized to emphasize thread usages and memory resources. To correlate the filter parameters with image characteristics for automation, optimal image texture features are subsequently acquired based on the sequential forward floating selection (SFFS) scheme. Subsequently, the selected features are introduced into the back propagation network (BPN) model for filter parameter estimation. Finally, the k-fold cross validation method is adopted to evaluate the accuracy of the proposed filter parameter prediction framework.Results
A wide variety of T1-weighted brain MR images with various scenarios of noise levels and anatomic structures were utilized to train and validate this new parameter decision system with CUDA-based bilateral filtering. For a common brain MR image volume of 256 × 256 × 256 pixels, the speed-up gain reached 284. Six optimal texture features were acquired and associated with the BPN to establish a “high accuracy” parameter prediction system, which achieved a mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) of 5.6%. Automatic restoration results on 2460 brain MR images received an average relative error in terms of peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) less than 0.1%. In comparison with many state-of-the-art filters, the proposed automation framework with CUDA-based bilateral filtering provided more favorable results both quantitatively and qualitatively.Conclusions
Possessing unique characteristics and demonstrating exceptional performances, the proposed CUDA-based bilateral filter adequately removed random noise in multifarious brain MR images for further study in neurosciences and radiological sciences. It requires no prior knowledge of the noise variance and automatically restores MR images while preserving fine details. The strategy of exploiting the CUDA to accelerate the computation and incorporating texture features into the BPN to completely automate the bilateral filtering process is achievable and validated, from which the best performance is reached.