Purpose: Sparse-view computed tomography (CT) has been attracting attention for its reduced radiation dose and scanning time. However, analytical image reconstruction methods suffer from streak artifacts due to insufficient projection views. Recently, various deep learning-based methods have been developed to solve this ill-posed inverse problem. Despite their promising results, they are easily overfitted to the training data, showing limited generalizability to unseen systems and patients. In this work, we propose a novel streak artifact reduction algorithm that provides a system- and patient-specific solution. Methods: Motivated by the fact that streak artifacts are deterministic errors, we regenerate the same artifacts from a prior CT image under the same system geometry. This prior image need not be perfect but should contain patient-specific information and be consistent with full-view projection data for accurate regeneration of the artifacts. To this end, we use a coordinate-based neural representation that often causes image blur but can greatly suppress the streak artifacts while having multiview consistency. By employing techniques in neural radiance fields originally proposed for scene representations, the neural representation is optimized to the measured sparse-view projection data via self-supervised learning. Then, we subtract the regenerated artifacts from the analytically reconstructed original image to obtain the final corrected image. Results: To validate the proposed method, we used simulated data of extended cardiac-torso phantoms and the 2016 NIH-AAPM-Mayo Clinic Low-Dose CT Grand Challenge and experimental data of physical pediatric and head phantoms. The performance of the proposed method was compared with a total variation-based iterative reconstruction method, naive application of the neural representation, and a convolutional neural network-based method. In visual inspection, it was observed that the small anatomical features were best preserved by the proposed method. The proposed method also achieved the best scores in the visual information fidelity, modulation transfer function, and lung nodule segmentation. Conclusions: The results on both simulated and experimental data suggest that the proposed method can effectively reduce the streak artifacts while preserving small anatomical structures that are easily blurred or replaced with misleading features by the existing methods. Since the proposed method does not require any additional training datasets, it would be useful in clinical practice where the large datasets cannot be collected.
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© 2022 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging