High-fidelity artifact correction for cone-beam CT imaging of the brain

A. Sisniega, W. Zbijewski, J. Xu, H. Dang, J. W. Stayman, J. Yorkston, N. Aygun, V. Koliatsos, J. H. Siewerdsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


CT is the frontline imaging modality for diagnosis of acute traumatic brain injury (TBI), involving the detection of fresh blood in the brain (contrast of 30-50 HU, detail size down to 1 mm) in a non-contrast-enhanced exam. A dedicated point-of-care imaging system based on cone-beam CT (CBCT) could benefit early detection of TBI and improve direction to appropriate therapy. However, flat-panel detector (FPD) CBCT is challenged by artifacts that degrade contrast resolution and limit application in soft-tissue imaging. We present and evaluate a fairly comprehensive framework for artifact correction to enable soft-tissue brain imaging with FPD CBCT. The framework includes a fast Monte Carlo (MC)-based scatter estimation method complemented by corrections for detector lag, veiling glare, and beam hardening. The fast MC scatter estimation combines GPU acceleration, variance reduction, and simulation with a low number of photon histories and reduced number of projection angles (sparse MC) augmented by kernel de-noising to yield a runtime of ∼4 min per scan. Scatter correction is combined with two-pass beam hardening correction. Detector lag correction is based on temporal deconvolution of the measured lag response function. The effects of detector veiling glare are reduced by deconvolution of the glare response function representing the long range tails of the detector point-spread function. The performance of the correction framework is quantified in experiments using a realistic head phantom on a testbench for FPD CBCT. Uncorrected reconstructions were non-diagnostic for soft-tissue imaging tasks in the brain. After processing with the artifact correction framework, image uniformity was substantially improved, and artifacts were reduced to a level that enabled visualization of ∼3 mm simulated bleeds throughout the brain. Non-uniformity (cupping) was reduced by a factor of 5, and contrast of simulated bleeds was improved from ∼7 to 49.7 HU, in good agreement with the nominal blood contrast of 50 HU. Although noise was amplified by the corrections, the contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) of simulated bleeds was improved by nearly a factor of 3.5 (CNR = 0.54 without corrections and 1.91 after correction). The resulting image quality motivates further development and translation of the FPD-CBCT system for imaging of acute TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1415-1439
Number of pages25
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 21 2015


  • Monte Carlo
  • artifact correction
  • cone beam CT
  • scatter correction
  • soft-tissue brain imaging
  • traumatic brain injury
  • variance reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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