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Image quality of ultralow-dose chest CT using deep learning techniques: potential superiority of vendor-agnostic post-processing over vendor-specific techniques

Cited 29 time in Web of Science Cited 33 time in Scopus

Nam, Ju Gang; Ahn, Chulkyun; Choi, Hyewon; Hong, Wonju; Park, Jongsoo; Kim, Jong Hyo; Goo, Jin Mo

Issue Date
Springer Verlag
European Radiology, Vol.31 No.7, pp.5139-5147
Objective To compare the image quality between the vendor-agnostic and vendor-specific algorithms on ultralow-dose chest CT. Methods Vendor-agnostic deep learning post-processing model (DLM), vendor-specific deep learning image reconstruction (DLIR, high level), and adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASiR, 70%) algorithms were employed. One hundred consecutive ultralow-dose noncontrast CT scans (CTDIvol; mean, 0.33 +/- 0.056 mGy) were reconstructed with five algorithms: DLM-stnd (standard kernel), DLM-shrp (sharp kernel), DLIR, ASiR-stnd, and ASiR-shrp. Three thoracic radiologists blinded to the reconstruction algorithms reviewed five sets of 100 images and assessed subjective noise, spatial resolution, distortion artifact, and overall image quality. They selected the most preferred algorithm among five image sets for each case. Image noise and signal-to-noise ratio were measured. Edge-rise-distance was measured at a pulmonary vessel, i.e., the distance between two points where attenuation was 10% and 90% of maximal intravascular intensity. The skewness of attenuation was calculated in homogeneous areas. Results DLM-stnd, followed by DLIR, showed the best subjective noise on both lung and mediastinal windows, while DLIR yielded the least measured noise (ps < .0001). Compared to DLM-stnd, DLIR showed inferior subjective spatial resolution on lung window and higher edge-rise-distance (ps < .0001). Additionally, DLIR showed the most frequent distortion artifacts and deviated skewness (ps < .0001). DLM-stnd scored the best overall image quality, followed by DLM-shrp and DLIR (mean score 3.89 +/- 0.19, 3.68 +/- 0.24, and 3.53 +/- 0.33; ps < .001). Two among three readers preferred DLM-stnd on both windows. Conclusion Although DLIR provided the best quantitative noise profile, DLM-stnd showed the best overall image quality with fewer artifacts and was preferred by two among three readers. Key Points A vendor-agnostic deep learning post-processing algorithm applied to ultralow-dose chest CT exhibited the best image quality compared to vendor-specific deep learning algorithm and ASiR techniques. Two out of three readers preferred a vendor-agnostic deep learning post-processing algorithm in comparison to vendorspecific deep learning algorithm and ASiR techniques. A vendor-specific deep learning reconstruction algorithm yielded the least image noise, but showed significantly more frequent specific distortion artifacts and increased skewness of attenuation compared to a vendor-agnostic algorithm.
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