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Phys Med Biol. 2012 Mar 21;57(6):1459-76. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/57/6/1459. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

Joint L1 and total variation regularization for fluorescence molecular tomography.

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Signal and Image Processing Institute, Department of Electrical Engineering-Systems, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


Fluorescence molecular tomography (FMT) is an imaging modality that exploits the specificity of fluorescent biomarkers to enable 3D visualization of molecular targets and pathways in vivo in small animals. Owing to the high degree of absorption and scattering of light through tissue, the FMT inverse problem is inherently ill-conditioned making image reconstruction highly susceptible to the effects of noise and numerical errors. Appropriate priors or penalties are needed to facilitate reconstruction and to restrict the search space to a specific solution set. Typically, fluorescent probes are locally concentrated within specific areas of interest (e.g., inside tumors). The commonly used L(2) norm penalty generates the minimum energy solution, which tends to be spread out in space. Instead, we present here an approach involving a combination of the L(1) and total variation norm penalties, the former to suppress spurious background signals and enforce sparsity and the latter to preserve local smoothness and piecewise constancy in the reconstructed images. We have developed a surrogate-based optimization method for minimizing the joint penalties. The method was validated using both simulated and experimental data obtained from a mouse-shaped phantom mimicking tissue optical properties and containing two embedded fluorescent sources. Fluorescence data were collected using a 3D FMT setup that uses an EMCCD camera for image acquisition and a conical mirror for full-surface viewing. A range of performance metrics was utilized to evaluate our simulation results and to compare our method with the L(1), L(2) and total variation norm penalty-based approaches. The experimental results were assessed using the Dice similarity coefficients computed after co-registration with a CT image of the phantom.

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