This paper characterizes and evaluates the potential of three commercial CT iterative reconstruction methods (ASIR™, VEO™ and iDose⁴(™)) for dose reduction and image quality improvement. We measured CT number accuracy, standard deviation (SD), noise power spectrum (NPS) and modulation transfer function (MTF) metrics on Catphan phantom images while five human observers performed four-alternative forced-choice (4AFC) experiments to assess the detectability of low- and high-contrast objects embedded in two pediatric phantoms. Results show that 40% and 100% ASIR as well as iDose⁴ levels 3 and 6 do not affect CT number and strongly decrease image noise with relative SD constant in a large range of dose. However, while ASIR produces a shift of the NPS curve apex, less change is observed with iDose⁴ with respect to FBP methods. With second-generation iterative reconstruction VEO, physical metrics are even further improved: SD decreased to 70.4% at 0.5 mGy and spatial resolution improved to 37% (MTF(50%)). 4AFC experiments show that few improvements in detection task performance are obtained with ASIR and iDose⁴, whereas VEO makes excellent detections possible even at an ultra-low-dose (0.3 mGy), leading to a potential dose reduction of a factor 3 to 7 (67%-86%). In spite of its longer reconstruction time and the fact that clinical studies are still required to complete these results, VEO clearly confirms the tremendous potential of iterative reconstructions for dose reduction in CT and appears to be an important tool for patient follow-up, especially for pediatric patients where cumulative lifetime dose still remains high.
Copyright © 2011 Associazione Italiana di Fisica Medica. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.