Methods: The tradeoffs in dose and image quality were investigated as a function of analytical (FBP) and model-based iterative reconstruction (PWLS) algorithm parameters using phantoms with ICH-mimicking inserts. Image quality in clinical applications was evaluated in a human cadaver imaged with simulated ICH. Objects outside of the field of view (FOV), such as the head-holder, were found to introduce challenging truncation artifacts in PWLS that were mitigated with a novel multi-resolution reconstruction strategy. Following phantom and cadaver studies, the scanner was translated to a clinical pilot study. Initial clinical experience indicates the presence of motion in some patient scans, and an image-based motion estimation method that does not require fiducial tracking or prior patient information was implemented and evaluated.
Results: The weighted CTDI for a nominal scan technique was 22.8 mGy. The high-resolution FBP reconstruction protocol achieved < 0.9 mm full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the point spread function (PSF). The PWLS soft-tissue reconstruction showed <1.2 mm PSF FWHM and lower noise than FBP at the same resolution. Effects of truncation in PWLS were mitigated with the multi-resolution approach, resulting in 60% reduction in root mean squared error compared to conventional PWLS. Cadaver images showed clear visualization of anatomical landmarks (ventricles and sulci), and ICH was conspicuous. The motion compensation method was shown in clinical studies to restore visibility of fine bone structures, such as the subtle fracture, cranial sutures, and the cochlea as well as subtle low-contrast structures in the brain parenchyma.
Conclusion: The imaging performance of the prototype suggests sufficient quality for ICH imaging and motivates continued clinical studies to assess the diagnosis utility of the CBCT system in realistic clinical scenarios at the point of care.