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Phys Med Biol. 2001 Jul;46(7):1835-44.

Ordered subset reconstruction for x-ray CT.

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Image Sciences Institute, University Hospital Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Statistical methods for image reconstruction such as the maximum likelihood expectation maximization are more robust and flexible than analytical inversion methods and allow for accurate modelling of the counting statistics and photon transport during acquisition of projection data. Statistical reconstruction is prohibitively slow when applied to clinical x-ray CT due to the large data sets and the high number of iterations required for reconstructing high-resolution images. Recently, however, powerful methods for accelerating statistical reconstruction have been proposed which, instead of accessing all projections simultaneously for updating an image estimate, are based on accessing a subset of projections at the time during iterative reconstruction. In this paper we study images generated by the convex algorithm accelerated by the use of ordered subsets (the OS convex algorithm (OSC)) for data sets with sizes, noise levels and spatial resolution representative of x-ray CT imaging. It is only in the case of extremely high acceleration factors (higher than 50, corresponding to fewer than 20 projections per subset), that areas with incorrect grey values appear in the reconstructed images, and that image noise increases compared with the standard convex algorithm. These image degradations can be adequately corrected for by running the final iteration of OSC with a reduced number of subsets. Even by applying such a relatively slow final iteration, OSC produces almost an equal resolution and lesion contrast as the standard convex algorithm, but more than two orders of magnitude faster.

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