Tremendous research efforts have been devoted to lower the X-ray radiation exposure to the patient in order to expand the utility of computed tomography (CT), particularly to pediatric imaging and population-based screening. When the exposure dosage goes down, both the X-ray quanta fluctuation and the system electronic background noise become significant factors affecting the image quality. Conventional edge-preserving noise smoothing would sacrifice tissue textures and compromise the clinical tasks. To relieve these challenges, this work models the noise problem by pre-log shifted Poisson statistics and extracts tissue textures from previous normal-dose CT scans as prior knowledge for texturepreserving Bayesian reconstruction of current ultralow-dose CT images. The pre-log shift Poisson model considers accurately both the X-ray quanta fluctuation and the system electronic noise while the prior knowledge of tissue textures removes the limitation of the conventional edge-preserving noise smoothing. The Bayesian reconstruction was tested by experimental studies. One patient chest scan was selected from a database of 133 patients’ scans at 100mAs/120kVp normal-dose level. From the selected patient scan, ultralow-dose data was simulated at 5mAs/120kVp level. The other 132 normal-dose scans were grouped according to how close their lung tissue texture patterns are from that of the selected patient scan. The tissue textures of each group were used to reconstruct the ultralow-dose scan by the Bayesian algorithm. The closest group to the selected patient produced almost identical results to the reconstruction when the tissue textures of the selected patient’s normal-dose scan were used, indicating the feasibility of extracting tissue textures from a previous normal-dose database to reconstruct any current ultralow-dose CT image. Since the Bayesian reconstruction can be time consuming, this work further investigates a strategy to efficiently store the projection matrix rather than computing the line integrals on-flight. This strategy accelerated the computing speed by more than 18 times.
Segmenting medical images is still a challenging task for both traditional local and global methods because the image intensity inhomogeneous. In this paper, two contributions are made: (i) on the one hand, a new hybrid model is proposed for medical image segmentation, which is built based on fractional order differentiation, level set description and curve evolution; and (ii) on the other hand, three popular definitions of Fourier-domain, Grünwald-Letnikov (G-L) and Riemann-Liouville (R-L) fractional order differentiation are investigated and compared through experimental results. Because of the merits of enhancing high frequency features of images and preserving low frequency features of images in a nonlinear manner by the fractional order differentiation definitions, one fractional order differentiation definition is used in our hybrid model to perform segmentation of inhomogeneous images. The proposed hybrid model also integrates fractional order differentiation, fractional order gradient magnitude and difference image information. The widely-used dice similarity coefficient metric is employed to evaluate quantitatively the segmentation results. Firstly, experimental results demonstrated that a slight difference exists among the three expressions of Fourier-domain, G-L, RL fractional order differentiation. This outcome supports our selection of one of the three definitions in our hybrid model. Secondly, further experiments were performed for comparison between our hybrid segmentation model and other existing segmentation models. A noticeable gain was seen by our hybrid model in segmenting intensity inhomogeneous images.
Segmentation of colon wall plays an important role in advancing computed tomographic colonography (CTC) toward a screening modality. Due to the low contrast of CT attenuation around colon wall, accurate segmentation of the boundary of both inner and outer wall is very challenging. In this paper, based on the geodesic active contour model, we develop a new model for colon wall segmentation. First, tagged materials in CTC images were automatically removed via a partial volume (PV) based electronic colon cleansing (ECC) strategy. We then present a new fractional order derivative based active contour model to segment the volumetric colon wall from the cleansed CTC images. In this model, the regionbased Chan-Vese model is incorporated as an energy term to the whole model so that not only edge/gradient information but also region/volume information is taken into account in the segmentation process. Furthermore, a fractional order differentiation derivative energy term is also developed in the new model to preserve the low frequency information and improve the noise immunity of the new segmentation model. The proposed colon wall segmentation approach was validated on 16 patient CTC scans. Experimental results indicate that the present scheme is very promising towards automatically segmenting colon wall, thus facilitating computer aided detection of initial colonic polyp candidates via CTC.