Efficient radiation dose reduction in whole-brain CT perfusion imaging using a 3D GAN: Performance and clinical feasibility

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Physics in Medicine and Biology


Dose reduction in cerebral CT perfusion (CTP) imaging is desirable but is accompanied by an increase in noise that can compromise the image quality and the accuracy of image-based haemodynamic modelling used for clinical decision support in acute ischaemic stroke. The few reported methods aimed at denoising low-dose CTP images lack practicality by considering only small sections of the brain or being computationally expensive. Moreover, the prediction of infarct and penumbra size and location - the chief means of decision support for treatment options - from denoised data has not been explored using these approaches. In this work, we present the first application of a 3D generative adversarial network (3D GAN) for predicting normal-dose CTP data from low-dose CTP data. Feasibility of the approach was tested using real data from 30 acute ischaemic stroke patients in conjunction with low dose simulation. The 3D GAN model was applied to 643 voxel patches extracted from two different configurations of the CTP data - frame-based and stacked. The method led to whole-brain denoised data being generated for haemodynamic modelling within 90 s. Accuracy of the method was evaluated using standard image quality metrics and the extent to which the clinical content and lesion characteristics of the denoised CTP data were preserved. Results showed an average improvement of 5.15-5.32 dB PSNR and 0.025-0.033 structural similarity index (SSIM) for CTP images and 2.66-3.95 dB PSNR and 0.036-0.067 SSIM for functional maps at 50% and 25% of normal dose using GAN model in conjunction with a stacked data regime for image synthesis. Consequently, the average lesion volumetric error reduced significantly (p-value <0.05) by 18%-29% and dice coefficient improved significantly by 15%-22%. We conclude that GAN-based denoising is a promising practical approach for reducing radiation dose in CTP studies and improving lesion characterisation.

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