Development of a voxel-matching technique for substantial reduction of subtraction artifacts in temporal subtraction images obtained from thoracic MDCT

J Digit Imaging. 2010 Feb;23(1):31-8. doi: 10.1007/s10278-008-9169-1. Epub 2008 Nov 20.


A temporal subtraction image, which is obtained by subtraction of a previous image from a current one, can be used for enhancing interval changes (such as formation of new lesions and changes in existing abnormalities) on medical images by removing most of the normal structures. However, subtraction artifacts are commonly included in temporal subtraction images obtained from thoracic computed tomography and thus tend to reduce its effectiveness in the detection of pulmonary nodules. In this study, we developed a new method for substantially removing the artifacts on temporal subtraction images of lungs obtained from multiple-detector computed tomography (MDCT) by using a voxel-matching technique. Our new method was examined on 20 clinical cases with MDCT images. With this technique, the voxel value in a warped (or nonwarped) previous image is replaced by a voxel value within a kernel, such as a small cube centered at a given location, which would be closest (identical or nearly equal) to the voxel value in the corresponding location in the current image. With the voxel-matching technique, the correspondence not only between the structures but also between the voxel values in the current and the previous images is determined. To evaluate the usefulness of the voxel-matching technique for removal of subtraction artifacts, the magnitude of artifacts remaining in the temporal subtraction images was examined by use of the full width at half maximum and the sum of a histogram of voxel values, which may indicate the average contrast and the total amount, respectively, of subtraction artifacts. With our new method, subtraction artifacts due to normal structures such as blood vessels were substantially removed on temporal subtraction images. This computerized method can enhance lung nodules on chest MDCT images without disturbing misregistration artifacts.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Radiography, Thoracic*
  • Subtraction Technique
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*