Methods: Experiments involved a cone-beam CT (CBCT) bench system, a robotic C-arm, and three phantoms. A robust 3D-2D registration process was used to compute the 9 degree of freedom (DOF) transformation between each projection and an existing 3D image by maximizing normalized gradient information with a digitally reconstructed radiograph (DRR) of the 3D volume. The quality of the resulting “self-calibration” was evaluated in terms of the agreement with an established calibration method using a BB phantom as well as image quality in the resulting CBCT reconstruction.
Results: The self-calibration yielded CBCT images without significant difference in spatial resolution from the standard (“true”) calibration methods (p-value >0.05 for all three phantoms), and the differences between CBCT images reconstructed using the “self” and “true” calibration methods were on the order of 10-3 mm-1. Maximum error in magnification was 3.2%, and back-projection ray placement was within 0.5 mm.
Conclusion: The proposed geometric “self” calibration provides a means for 3D imaging on general noncircular orbits in CBCT systems for which a geometric calibration is either not available or not reproducible. The method forms the basis of advanced “task-based” 3D imaging methods now in development for robotic C-arms.