Sparse Image Reconstruction in Computed Tomography

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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In recent years, increased focus on the potentially harmful effects of x-ray computed tomography (CT) scans, such as radiation-induced cancer, has motivated research on new low-dose imaging techniques. Sparse image reconstruction methods, as studied for instance in the field of compressed sensing (CS), have shown significant empirical potential for this purpose. For example, total variation regularized image reconstruction has been shown in some cases to allow reducing x-ray exposure by a factor of 10 or more, while maintaining or even improving image quality compared to conventional reconstruction methods.

However, the potential in CT has mainly been demonstrated in individual proof-of-concept studies, from which it is hard to distill general conditions for when sparse reconstruction methods perform well. As a result, there is a fundamental lack of understanding of the effectiveness and limitations of sparse reconstruction methods in CT, in particular in a quantitative sense. For example, relations between image properties such as contrast, structure and sparsity, tolerable noise levels, suficient sampling levels, the choice of sparse reconstruction formulation and the achievable image quality remain unclear. This is a problem of high practical concern, because the large scale of CT problems makes detailed exploration of the parameter space very time-consuming. Due to the limited quantitative understanding, sparse reconstruction has not yet become the method of choice in practical CT applications.

This thesis takes a systematic approach toward establishing quantitative understanding of conditions for sparse reconstruction to work well in CT. A general framework for analyzing sparse reconstruction methods in CT is introduced and two sets of computational tools are proposed:

1. An optimization algorithm framework enabling easy derivation of algorithms for sparse reconstruction problems, and

2. Tools for characterizing sparse reconstruction in CT, i.e., establishing relations between parameters governing reconstruction quality.

The flexibility of the optimization algorithm framework is demonstrated by constructing convergent optimization algorithms for a range of sparse reconstruction problems of interest to CT. The practical usefulness of the framework is shown through case studies of the eectiveness of specic sparse reconstruction problems in tomographic reconstruction.

The characterization methods proposed in the thesis focus on the role of image sparsity for the level of sampling required for accurate CT reconstruction. While a relation between sparsity and sampling is motivated by CS, no theoretical guarantees of accurate sparse reconstruction are known for CT. In simulation studies, a sparsity-sampling relation is established in CT. This enables quantification of the undersampling allowed by sparse reconstruction methods.

Both the prototyping framework and the characterization methods add to the understanding of sparse reconstruction methods in CT and serve as initial contributions to a general set of computational characterization tools. Thus, the thesis contributions help advance sparse reconstruction methods toward routine use in
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Number of pages292
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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