Methods: Measurement of small airways with qCT remains a challenge, especially for low x-ray dose protocols. Images of the COPDGene quality assurance phantom (CTP698, The Phantom Laboratory, Salem, NY) were obtained using a GE discovery CT750 HD scanner for helical scans at x-ray radiation dose-equivalents ranging from 1 to 4.12 mSv (12-100 mA s current-time product). Other parameters were 40 mm collimation, 0.984 pitch, 0.5 s rotation, and 0.625 mm thickness. The phantom was sandwiched between 7.5 cm thick water attenuating phantoms for a total length of 20 cm to better simulate the scatter conditions of patient scans. Image data sets were reconstructed using STANDARD (STD), DETAIL, BONE, and EDGE algorithms for filtered back projection (FBP), 100% adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASIR), and Veo reconstructions. Reduced (half) display field of view (DFOV) was used to increase sampling across airway phantom structures. Inner diameter (ID), wall area percent (WA%), and wall thickness (WT) measurements of eight airway mimicking tubes in the phantom, including a 2.5 mm ID (42.6 WA%, 0.4 mm WT), 3 mm ID (49.0 WA%, 0.6 mm WT), and 6 mm ID (49.0 WA%, 1.2 mm WT) were performed with Airway Inspector (Surgical Planning Laboratory, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Boston, MA) using the phase congruency edge detection method. The average of individual measures at five central slices of the phantom was taken to reduce measurement error.
Results: WA% measures were greatly overestimated while IDs were underestimated for the smaller airways, especially for reconstructions at full DFOV (36 cm) using the STD kernel, due to poor sampling and spatial resolution (0.7 mm pixel size). Despite low radiation dose, the ID of the 6 mm ID airway was consistently measured accurately for all methods other than STD FBP. Veo reconstructions showed slight improvement over STD FBP reconstructions (4%-9% increase in accuracy). The most improved ID and WA% measures were for the smaller airways, especially for low dose scans reconstructed at half DFOV (18 cm) with the EDGE algorithm in combination with 100% ASIR to mitigate noise. Using the BONE + ASIR at half BONE technique, measures improved by a factor of 2 over STD FBP even at a quarter of the x-ray dose.
Conclusions: The flexibility of ASIR in combination with higher frequency algorithms, such as BONE, provided the greatest accuracy for conventional and low x-ray dose relative to FBP. Veo provided more modest improvement in qCT measures, likely due to its compatibility only with the smoother STD kernel.
Purpose: To determine the impact of constrained reconstruction techniques on quantitative CT (qCT) of the lung parenchyma and airways for low x-ray radiation dose.
- computed tomography
- quantitative analysis