Identification of optimal mask size parameter for noise filtering in 99mTc-methylene diphosphonate bone scintigraphy images

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99mTc-methylene diphosphonate (99mTc-MDP) bone scintigraphy images have limited number of counts per pixel. A noise filtering method based on local statistics of the image produces better results than a linear filter. However, the mask size has a significant effect on image quality. In this study, we have identified the optimal mask size that yields a good smooth bone scan image. Forty four bone scan images were processed using mask sizes 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 pixels. The input and processed images were reviewed in two steps. In the first step, the images were inspected and the mask sizes that produced images with significant loss of clinical details in comparison with the input image were excluded. In the second step, the image quality of the 40 sets of images (each set had input image, and its corresponding three processed images with 3, 5, and 7-pixel masks) was assessed by two nuclear medicine physicians. They selected one good smooth image from each set of images. The image quality was also assessed quantitatively with a line profile. Fisher’s exact test was used to find statistically significant differences in image quality processed with 5 and 7-pixel mask at a 5% cut-off. A statistically significant difference was found between the image quality processed with 5 and 7-pixel mask at P=0.00528. The identified optimal mask size to produce a good smooth image was found to be 7 pixels. The best mask size for the John-Sen Lee filter was found to be 7×7 pixels, which yielded 99mTc-methylene diphosphonate bone scan images with the highest acceptable smoothness.

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