Purpose: A novel method for flat-detector computed tomography was developed to enable volume-of-interest (VOI) imaging at high resolution, low noise, and reduced dose. For this, a full low-dose overview (OV) scan and a local high-dose scan of a VOI are combined.
Methods: The first scan yields an overview of the whole object and enables the selection of an arbitrary VOI. The second scan of that VOI assures high image quality within the interesting volume. The combination of the two consecutive scans is based on a forward projection of the reconstructed OV volume that was registered to the VOI. The artificial projection data of the OV scan are combined with the measured VOI data in the raw data domain. Different projection values are matched by an appropriate transformation and weighting. The reconstruction is performed with a standard Feldkamp-type algorithm. In simulations, the combination of OV scan and VOI scan was investigated on a mathematically described phantom. In measurements, spatial resolution and noise were evaluated with image quality phantoms. Modulation transfer functions and noise values were calculated. Measurements of an anthropomorphic head phantom were used to validate the proposed method for realistic applications, e.g., imaging stents. In Monte Carlo simulations, 3D dose distributions were calculated and dose values were assessed quantitatively.
Results: By the proposed combination method, an image is generated which covers the whole object and provides the VOI at high image quality. In the OV image, a resolution of 0.7 lp/mm (line pairs per millimeter) and noise of 63.5 HU were determined. Inside the VOI, resolution was increased to 2.4 lp/mm and noise was decreased to 18.7 HU. For the performed measurements, the cumulative dose was significantly reduced in comparison to conventional scans by up to 93%. The dose of a high-quality scan, for example, was reduced from 97 to less than 7 mGy, while keeping image quality constant within the VOI.
Conclusions: The proposed VOI application with two scans is an effective way to ensure high image quality within the VOI while simultaneously reducing the cumulative patient dose.