The effect of averaging adjacent planes for artifact reduction in matrix inversion tomosynthesis.
PURPOSE: Matrix inversion tomosynthesis (MITS) uses linear systems theory and knowledge of the imaging geometry to remove tomographic blur that is present in conventional backprojection tomosynthesis reconstructions, leaving in-plane detail rendered clearly. The use of partial-pixel interpolation during the backprojection process introduces imprecision in the MITS modeling of tomographic blur, and creates low-contrast artifacts in some MITS planes. This paper examines the use of MITS slabs, created by averaging several adjacent MITS planes, as a method for suppressing partial-pixel artifacts. METHODS: Human chest tomosynthesis projection data, acquired as part of an IRB-approved pilot study, were used to generate MITS planes, three-plane MITS slabs (MITSa3), five-plane MITS slabs (MITSa5), and seven-plane MITS slabs (MITSa7). These were qualitatively examined for partial-pixel artifacts and the visibility of normal and abnormal anatomy. Additionally, small (5 mm) subtle pulmonary nodules were simulated and digitally superimposed upon human chest tomosynthesis projection images, and their visibility was qualitatively assessed in the different reconstruction techniques. Simulated images of a thin wire were used to generate modulation transfer function (MTF) and slice-sensitivity profile curves for the different MITS and MITS slab techniques, and these were examined for indications of partial-pixel artifacts and frequency response uniformity. Finally, mean-subtracted, exposure-normalized noise power spectra (ENNPS) estimates were computed and compared for MITS and MITS slab reconstructions, generated from 10 sets of tomosynthesis projection data of an acrylic slab. The simulated in-plane MTF response of each technique was also combined with the square root of the ENNPS estimate to yield stochastic signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) information about the different reconstruction techniques. RESULTS: For scan angles of 20° and 5 mm plane separation, seven MITS planes must be averaged to sufficiently remove partial-pixel artifacts. MITSa7 does appear to subtly reduce the contrast of high-frequency "edge" information, but the removal of partial-pixel artifacts makes the appearance of low-contrast, fine-detail anatomy even more conspicuous in MITSa7 slices. MITSa7 also appears to render simulated subtle 5 mm pulmonary nodules with greater visibility than MITS alone, in both the open lung and regions overlying the mediastinum. Finally, the MITSa7 technique reduces stochastic image variance, though the in-plane stochastic SNR (for very thin objects which do not span multiple MITS planes) is only improved at spatial frequencies between 0.05 and 0.20 cycles∕mm. CONCLUSIONS: The MITSa7 method is an improvement over traditional single-plane MITS for thoracic imaging and the pulmonary nodule detection task, and thus the authors plan to use the MITSa7 approach for all future MITS research at the authors' institution.
Godfrey, DJ; McAdams, HP; Dobbins, JT
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