4D micro-CT for cardiac and perfusion applications with view under sampling.
Micro-CT is commonly used in preclinical studies to provide anatomical information. There is growing interest in obtaining functional measurements from 4D micro-CT. We report here strategies for 4D micro-CT with a focus on two applications: (i) cardiac imaging based on retrospective gating and (ii) pulmonary perfusion using multiple contrast injections/rotations paradigm. A dual source micro-CT system is used for image acquisition with a sampling rate of 20 projections per second. The cardiac micro-CT protocol involves the use of a liposomal blood pool contrast agent. Fast scanning of free breathing mice is achieved using retrospective gating. The ECG and respiratory signals are used to sort projections into ten cardiac phases. The pulmonary perfusion protocol uses a conventional contrast agent (Isovue 370) delivered by a micro-injector in four injections separated by 2 min intervals to allow for clearance. Each injection is synchronized with the rotation of the animal, and each of the four rotations is started with an angular offset of 22.5 from the starting angle of the previous rotation. Both cardiac and perfusion protocols result in an irregular angular distribution of projections that causes significant streaking artifacts in reconstructions when using traditional filtered backprojection (FBP) algorithms. The reconstruction involves the use of the point spread function of the micro-CT system for each time point, and the analysis of the distribution of the reconstructed data in the Fourier domain. This enables us to correct for angular inconsistencies via deconvolution and identify regions where data is missing. The missing regions are filled with data from a high quality but temporally averaged prior image reconstructed with all available projections. Simulations indicate that deconvolution successfully removes the streaking artifacts while preserving temporal information. 4D cardiac micro-CT in a mouse was performed with adequate image quality at isotropic voxel size of 88 µm and 10 ms temporal resolution. 4D pulmonary perfusion images were obtained in a mouse at 176 µm and 687 ms temporal resolution. Compared with FBP reconstruction, the streak reduction ratio is 70% and the contrast to noise ratio is 2.5 times greater in the deconvolved images. The radiation dose associated with the proposed methods is in the range of a typical micro-CT dose (0.17 Gy for the cardiac study and 0.21 Gy for the perfusion study). The low dose 4D micro-CT imaging presented here can be applied in high-throughput longitudinal studies in a wide range of applications, including drug safety and cardiopulmonary phenotyping.
Badea, CT; Johnston, SM; Qi, Y; Johnson, GA
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