Development of realistic multi-contrast textured XCAT (MT-XCAT) phantoms using a dual-discriminator conditional-generative adversarial network (D-CGAN)

Phys Med Biol. 2020 Mar 19;65(6):065009. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/ab7309.


Develop a machine learning-based method to generate multi-contrast anatomical textures in the 4D extended cardiac-torso (XCAT) phantom for more realistic imaging simulations. As a pilot study, we synthesize CT and CBCT textures in the chest region. For training purposes, major organs and gross tumor volumes (GTVs) in chest region were segmented from real patient images and assigned to different HU values to generate organ maps, which resemble the XCAT images. A dual-discriminator conditional-generative adversarial network (D-CGAN) was developed to synthesize anatomical textures in the corresponding organ maps. The D-CGAN was uniquely designed with two discriminators, one trained for the body and the other for the tumor. Various XCAT phantoms were input to the D-CGAN to generate textured XCAT phantoms. The D-CGAN model was trained separately using 62 CT and 63 CBCT images from lung SBRT patients to generate multi-contrast textured XCAT (MT-XCAT). The MT-XCAT phantoms were evaluated by comparing the intensity histograms and radiomic features with those from real patient images using Wilcoxon rank-sum test. The visual examination demonstrated that the MT-XCAT phantoms presented similar general contrast and anatomical textures as CT and CBCT images. The mean HU of the MT-XCAT-CT and MT-XCAT-CBCT were [Formula: see text] and [Formula: see text], compared with that of real CT ([Formula: see text]) and CBCT ([Formula: see text]). The majority of radiomic features from the MT-XCAT phantoms followed the same distribution as the real images according to the Wilcoxon rank-sum test, except for limited second-order features. The study demonstrated the feasibility of generating realistic MT-XCAT phantoms using D-CGAN. The MT-XCAT phantoms can be further expanded to include other modalities (MRI, PET, ultrasound, etc) under the same scheme. This crucial development greatly enhances the value of the phantom for various clinical applications, including testing and optimizing novel imaging techniques, validation of radiomics analysis methods, and virtual clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media
  • Four-Dimensional Computed Tomography / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning*
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Pilot Projects


  • Contrast Media