Intra-procedural contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) has been proposed to monitor the growth of thermal ablations. The primary challenge with multiple CT acquisitions is reducing radiation dose while maintaining sufficient image quality. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of applying local highly constrained backprojection reconstruction (HYPR-LR) on periodic CECT images acquired with low-dose protocols, and to determine whether the ablations visible on CT were commensurate to gross pathology.Methods
Low-dose (Symbol), temporal CECT volumes were acquired during microwave ablation on normal porcine liver. HYPR processing was performed on each volume after image registration. Ablation signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) were collected to evaluate the degree of enhancement of image quality and ablation zone visualization. Ablation zones were manually segmented on HYPR and non-HYPR images and compared spatially using Dice's coefficient. The dimensions of ablation zones were also compared to gross pathology by correlation and dimensional differences.Results
The SNR and CNR of ablation zones were increased after HYPR processing. The manually segmented ablation zone was highly similar to gross pathology with a Dice coefficient of 0.81 ± 0.03, while the low-dose CECT had a smaller Dice coefficient of 0.72 ± 0.05. Both HYPR and low-dose CECT had high correlation to gross pathology (0.99 and 0.94, respectively), but the variance of measurements were lower after HYPR processing compared to unprocessed images. The relative difference in area, length of long axis, and length of short axis for HYPR image were 13.1 ± 5.6%, 9.7 ± 4.2%, and 15.2 ± 2.8%, which were lower than those for low-dose CECT at 37.5 ± 6.0%, 17.7 ± 2.8%, and 28.9 ± 5.4%.Conclusion
HYPR processing applied to periodic CECT images can enhance ablation zone visualization. HYPR processing may potentially enable CECT in real-time ablation monitoring under strict regulation of radiation dose.