Quantitative diagnostic dual energy CT with atlas-based prior knowledge

Quantitative diagnostic dual energy CT with atlas-based prior knowledge

(Third Party Funds Single)

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Start date: January 1, 2016
End date: May 31, 2019
Funding source: DFG-Einzelförderung / Sachbeihilfe (EIN-SBH)


                                  During the last decade, dual energy CT (DECT) became widely available in clinical routine. Offered by all major CT manufacturers, with differing hard- and software concepts, the DECT applications are alike: the acquired DECT data are used to conduct two- or multi material decompositions, e.g. to separate iodine and bone from soft tissue or to quantify contrast agent and fat, to classify or characterize tissue, or to increase contrasts (CNR maximization), or to suppress contrasts (artifact reduction). The applications are designed to work with certain organs and the user needs to take care to invoke the correct application and to interpret its output only in the appropriate organ or anatomical region. E.g. interpreting the output of a kidney stone applications in organs other than the kidney will yield a wrong classification. To obtain quantitative results the applications require to set patient-specific parameters. In order to calibrate those the user is asked to place ROIs in predefined anatomical regions. Since this is time-consuming users are often tempted to use the default settings instead of optimizing them. Here, we want to develop a DECT atlas to utilize its anatomical (and functional) information for con-text-sensitive DECT imaging and material decomposition, and to be able to automatically calibrate the open parameters without the need of user interaction. To improve quantification the initial images shall not be reconstructed separately but rather undergo a rawdata-based decomposition before being converted into image domain. A dedicated user interface shall be developed to provide the new context-sensitive DECT information - such as automatically decomposing each organ into different but reasonable basis materials, for example - and to display it to the reader in a convenient way. Similarly, user-placed ROIs shall trigger a context-sensitive statistical evaluation of the ROI's contents and provide it to the user. This will help to quantify the iodine uptake in a tumor or a lesion, to separate it from fat or calcium components, to estimate its blood supply etc. Since the DECT data display the contrast uptake just for a given instance in time and since this contrast depends on patient-specific factors such as the cardiac output, we are planning to normalize the contrast uptake with the help of the dual energy information contained in the atlas. This will minimize inter and intra patient effects and increase the reproducibility. In addition, organ-specific material scores shall be developed that quantify a patient's material composition on an organ by organ basis. The new methods (DECT atlas, material decomposition, ...) shall be tested and evaluated using phantom and patient studies, and shall be optimized accordingly.