Motion estimation for cardiac functional analysis using two x-ray computed tomography scans

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Abstract

Purpose

This work concerns computed tomography (CT)-based cardiac functional analysis (CFA) with a reduced radiation dose. As CT-CFA requires images over the entire heartbeat, the scans are often performed at 10–20% of the tube current settings that are typically used for coronary CT angiography. A large image noise then degrades the accuracy of motion estimation. Moreover, even if the scan was performed during the sinus rhythm, the cardiac motion observed in CT images may not be cyclic with patients with atrial fibrillation. In this study, we propose to use two CT scan data, one for CT angiography at a quiescent phase at a standard dose and the other for CFA over the entire heart beat at a lower dose.

Methods

We have made the following four modifications to an image-based cardiac motion estimation method we have previously developed for a full-dose retrospectively gated coronary CT angiography: (a) a full-dose prospectively gated coronary CT angiography image acquired at the least motion phase was used as the reference image; (b) a three-dimensional median filter was applied to lower-dose retrospectively gated cardiac images acquired at 20 phases over one heartbeat in order to reduce image noise; (c) the strength of the temporal regularization term was made adaptive; and (d) a one-dimensional temporal filter was applied to the estimated motion vector field in order to decrease jaggy motion patterns. We describe the conventional method iME1 and the proposed method iME2 in this article. Five observers assessed the accuracy of the estimated motion vector field of iME2 and iME1 using a 4-point scale. The observers repeated the assessment with data presented in a new random order 1 week after the first assessment session.

Results

The study confirmed that the proposed iME2 was robust against the mismatch of noise levels, contrast enhancement levels, and shapes of the chambers. There was a statistically significant difference between iME2 and iME1 (accuracy score, 2.08 ± 0.81 versus 2.77 ± 0.98, P < 0.01) and the improvement by the score of + 0.69 seemed clinically relevant. Inter-observer concordance was good: The inter-class correlation coefficient was 0.63 and Kendall's rank correlation coefficients were in the range of 0.41–0.67 (P < 0.01), respectively. Intra-observer reproducibility between sessions was good with the inter-class correlation coefficient of 0.76.

Conclusion

We have proposed iME2 method for CT-CFA with two CT scans. The observer study verified the robustness and accuracy of iME2 method and its improved performance over iME1 method.

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