The partial volume effect is a significant limitation in medical imaging that results in blurring when the boundary between two structures of interest falls in the middle of a voxel. A new anisotropic diffusion method allows one to create interpolated 3D images corrected for partial volume, without enhancement of noise. After a zero-order interpolation, we apply a modified version of the anisotropic diffusion approach, wherein the diffusion coefficient becomes negative for high gradient values. As a result, the new scheme restores edges between regions that have been blurred by partial voluming, but it acts as normal anisotropic diffusion in flat regions, where it reduces noise. We add constraints to stabilize the method and model partial volume; i.e., the sum of neighboring voxels must equal the signal in the original low resolution voxel and the signal in a voxel is kept within its neighbor's limits.
The method performed well on a variety of synthetic images and MRI scans. No noticeable artifact was induced by interpolation with partial volume correction, and noise was much reduced in homogeneous regions. We validated the method using the BrainWeb project database. Partial volume effect was simulated and restored brain volumes compared to the original ones. Errors due to partial volume effect were reduced by 28% and 35% for the 5% and 0% noise cases, respectively. The method was applied to in vivo "thick" MRI carotid artery images for atherosclerosis detection. There was a remarkable increase in the delineation of the lumen of the carotid artery.