Purpose: To develop a new fully four-dimensional (4D), iterative image reconstruction algorithm for cardiac CT that alternates the following two methods: estimation of a time-dependent motion vector field (MVF) of the heart from image data and reconstruction of images using the estimated MVF and projection data. Methods: Volumetric image data at different cardiac phase points were obtained using electrocardiogram-gated CT. Motion estimation (ME) and motion-compensated image reconstruction (MCR) were performed alternately until convergence was achieved. The ME method estimated the cardiac MVF using 4D nonrigid image registration between a cardiac reference phase and all the other phases. The nonrigid deformation of the heart was modeled using cubic B-splines. The cost function consisted of a sum of squared weighted differences and spatial and temporal regularization terms. A nested conjugate gradient optimization algorithm was applied to minimize the cost function and estimate the MVFs. Cardiac images were reconstructed using a motion-tracking algorithm that utilized the MVFs estimated by the ME method. The reconstructed images supplied the input to the ME of the next iteration. The performance of the proposed method was evaluated using four patient data sets acquired with a 64-slice CT scanner. The heart rates of the patients ranged from 52 to 71 beats/min. Results: Motion artifacts were significantly reduced, and the image quality increased with the number of iterations. Without MCR, the right coronary artery (RCA) was deformed into an arc in axial images of rapid phases. With the proposed method the RCA appeared sharper and was reconstructed similar in shape to the reconstruction at the quiescent phase at mid-diastole. The boundary between the interventricular septum and the right ventricle was also clearer and sharper using the proposed algorithm. The steepness of the transition range at a rapid phase (35 R-R) was increased from 6.8 HUpixel to 11.5 HUpixel. The ME-MCR algorithm converged in just four iterations. Conclusion: We developed a fully 4D image reconstruction method that alternates ME and MCR algorithms in an iterative fashion. Performance tests using clinical patient data resulted in reduced motion artifacts.
- motion artifacts
- motion estimation (ME)
- motion-compensated reconstruction (MCR)
- sum of squared weighted differences