Resolution-enhancing hybrid, spectral CT reconstruction
© 2016 SPIE. Spectral x-ray imaging based on photon-counting x-ray detectors (PCXD) is an area of growing interest. By measuring the energy of x-ray photons, a spectral CT system can better differentiate elements using a single scan. However, the spatial resolution achievable with most PCXDs limits their application, particularly in preclinical CT imaging. Consequently, our group is developing a hybrid micro-CT scanner based on a high-resolution, energy-integrating (EID) detector and a lower-resolution, PCXD. To complement this system, we propose and demonstrate a hybrid, spectral CT reconstruction algorithm which robustly combines the spectral contrast of the PCXD with the spatial resolution of the EID. Specifically, the high-resolution, spectrally resolved data (X) is recovered as the sum of two matrices: one with low column rank (XL) determined from the EID data and one with intensity gradient sparse columns (XS) corresponding to the upsampled spectral contrast obtained from the PCXD data. We test the proposed algorithm in a feasibility study focused on molecular imaging of atherosclerotic plaque using activatable iodine and gold nanoparticles. The results show accurate estimation of material concentrations at increased spatial resolution for a voxel size ratio between the PCXD and the EID of 500 μm3:100 μm3. Specifically, regularized, iterative reconstruction of the MOBY mouse phantom around the K-edges of iodine (33.2 keV) and gold (80.7 keV) reduces the reconstruction error by more than a factor of three relative to least-squares, algebraic reconstruction. Likewise, the material decomposition accuracy into iodine, gold, calcium, and water improves by more than a factor of two.
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