Cone beam reconstructed cardiac CT images suffer from characteristic streak artifacts that affect the quality of coronary artery imaging. These artifacts arise from inhomogeneous distribution of noise. While in non-tagged reconstruction inhomogeneity of noise distribution is mainly due to anisotropy of the attenuation of the scanned object (e.g. shoulders), in cardiac imaging it is largely influenced by the non-uniform distribution of the acquired data used for reconstructing the heart at a given phase. We use a cardiac adaptive filter to reduce these streaks. In difference to previous methods of adaptive filtering that locally smooth data points on the basis of their attenuation values, our filter is applied as a function of the noise distribution of the data as it is used in the phase selective reconstruction. We have reconstructed trans-axial images without adaptive filtering, with a regular adaptive filter and with the cardiac adaptive filter. With the cardiac adaptive filter significant reduction of streaks is achieved, and thus image quality is improved. The coronary vessel is much more pronounced in the cardiac adaptive filtered images, in slab MIP the main coronary artery branches are more visible, and non-calcified plaque is better differentiated from vessel wall. This improvement is accomplished without altering significantly the border definition of calcified plaques.
Fast 16-slice spiral CT delivers superior cardiac visualization in comparison to older generation 2- to 8-slice scanners due to the combination of high temporal resolution along with isotropic spatial resolution and large coverage. The large beam opening of such scanners necessitates the use of adequate algorithms to avoid cone beam artifacts. We have developed a multi-cycle phase selective 3D back projection reconstruction algorithm that provides excellent temporal and spatial resolution for 16-slice CT cardiac images free of cone beam artifacts.