Purpose: Metal prostheses cause artifacts in computed tomography (CT) images. The purpose of this work was to design an efficient and accurate metal segmentation in raw data to achieve artifact suppression and to improve CT image quality for patients with metal hip or shoulder prostheses.
Methods: The artifact suppression technique incorporates two steps: metal object segmentation in raw data and replacement of the segmented region by new values using an interpolation scheme, followed by addition of the scaled metal signal intensity. Segmentation of metal is performed directly in sinograms, making it efficient and different from current methods that perform segmentation in reconstructed images in combination with Radon transformations. Metal signal segmentation is achieved by using a Markov random field model (MRF). Three interpolation methods are applied and investigated. To provide a proof of concept, CT data of five patients with metal implants were included in the study, as well as CT data of a PMMA phantom with Teflon, PVC, and titanium inserts. Accuracy was determined quantitatively by comparing mean Hounsfield (HU) values and standard deviation (SD) as a measure of distortion in phantom images with titanium (original and suppressed) and without titanium insert. Qualitative improvement was assessed by comparing uncorrected clinical images with artifact suppressed images.
Results: Artifacts in CT data of a phantom and five patients were automatically suppressed. The general visibility of structures clearly improved. In phantom images, the technique showed reduced SD close to the SD for the case where titanium was not inserted, indicating improved image quality. HU values in corrected images were different from expected values for all interpolation methods. Subtle differences between interpolation methods were found.
Conclusions: The new artifact suppression design is efficient, for instance, in terms of preserving spatial resolution, as it is applied directly to original raw data. It successfully reduced artifacts in CT images of five patients and in phantom images. Sophisticated interpolation methods are needed to obtain reliable HU values close to the prosthesis.