All Publications

  • A Dynamic Attenuator Improves Spectral Imaging With Energy-Discriminating, Photon Counting Detectors IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MEDICAL IMAGING Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2015; 34 (3): 729-739


    Energy-discriminating, photon counting (EDPC) detectors have high potential in spectral imaging applications but exhibit degraded performance when the incident count rate approaches or exceeds the characteristic count rate of the detector. In order to reduce the requirements on the detector, we explore the strategy of modulating the X-ray flux field using a recently proposed dynamic, piecewise-linear attenuator. A previous paper studied this modulation for photon counting detectors but did not explore the impact on spectral applications. In this work, we modeled detection with a bipolar triangular pulse shape (Taguchi et al., 2011) and estimated the Cramer-Rao lower bound (CRLB) of the variance of material selective and equivalent monoenergetic images, assuming deterministic errors at high flux could be corrected. We compared different materials for the dynamic attenuator and found that rare earth elements, such as erbium, outperformed previously proposed materials such as iron in spectral imaging. The redistribution of flux reduces the variance or dose, consistent with previous studies on benefits with conventional detectors. Numerical simulations based on DICOM datasets were used to assess the impact of the dynamic attenuator for detectors with several different characteristic count rates. The dynamic attenuator reduced the peak incident count rate by a factor of 4 in the thorax and 44 in the pelvis, and a 10 Mcps/mm (2) EDPC detector with dynamic attenuator provided generally superior image quality to a 100 Mcps/mm (2) detector with reference bowtie filter for the same dose. The improvement is more pronounced in the material images.

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TMI.2014.2360381

    View details for Web of Science ID 000350870700005

    View details for PubMedID 25265628

  • An algorithm to estimate the object support in truncated images. Medical physics Hsieh, S. S., Nett, B. E., Cao, G., Pelc, N. J. 2014; 41 (7): 071908-?


    Truncation artifacts in CT occur if the object to be imaged extends past the scanner field of view (SFOV). These artifacts impede diagnosis and could possibly introduce errors in dose plans for radiation therapy. Several approaches exist for correcting truncation artifacts, but existing correction algorithms do not accurately recover the skin line (or support) of the patient, which is important in some dose planning methods. The purpose of this paper was to develop an iterative algorithm that recovers the support of the object.The authors assume that the truncated portion of the image is made up of soft tissue of uniform CT number and attempt to find a shape consistent with the measured data. Each known measurement in the sinogram is interpreted as an estimate of missing mass along a line. An initial estimate of the object support is generated by thresholding a reconstruction made using a previous truncation artifact correction algorithm (e.g., water cylinder extrapolation). This object support is iteratively deformed to reduce the inconsistency with the measured data. The missing data are estimated using this object support to complete the dataset. The method was tested on simulated and experimentally truncated CT data.The proposed algorithm produces a better defined skin line than water cylinder extrapolation. On the experimental data, the RMS error of the skin line is reduced by about 60%. For moderately truncated images, some soft tissue contrast is retained near the SFOV. As the extent of truncation increases, the soft tissue contrast outside the SFOV becomes unusable although the skin line remains clearly defined, and in reformatted images it varies smoothly from slice to slice as expected.The support recovery algorithm provides a more accurate estimate of the patient outline than thresholded, basic water cylinder extrapolation, and may be preferred in some radiation therapy applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1118/1.4881521

    View details for PubMedID 24989386

  • The piecewise-linear dynamic attenuator reduces the impact of count rate loss with photon-counting detectors PHYSICS IN MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2014; 59 (11): 2829-2847


    Photon counting x-ray detectors (PCXDs) offer several advantages compared to standard energy-integrating x-ray detectors, but also face significant challenges. One key challenge is the high count rates required in CT. At high count rates, PCXDs exhibit count rate loss and show reduced detective quantum efficiency in signal-rich (or high flux) measurements. In order to reduce count rate requirements, a dynamic beam-shaping filter can be used to redistribute flux incident on the patient. We study the piecewise-linear attenuator in conjunction with PCXDs without energy discrimination capabilities. We examined three detector models: the classic nonparalyzable and paralyzable detector models, and a 'hybrid' detector model which is a weighted average of the two which approximates an existing, real detector (Taguchi et al 2011 Med. Phys. 38 1089-102 ). We derive analytic expressions for the variance of the CT measurements for these detectors. These expressions are used with raw data estimated from DICOM image files of an abdomen and a thorax to estimate variance in reconstructed images for both the dynamic attenuator and a static beam-shaping ('bowtie') filter. By redistributing flux, the dynamic attenuator reduces dose by 40% without increasing peak variance for the ideal detector. For non-ideal PCXDs, the impact of count rate loss is also reduced. The nonparalyzable detector shows little impact from count rate loss, but with the paralyzable model, count rate loss leads to noise streaks that can be controlled with the dynamic attenuator. With the hybrid model, the characteristic count rates required before noise streaks dominate the reconstruction are reduced by a factor of 2 to 3. We conclude that the piecewise-linear attenuator can reduce the count rate requirements of the PCXD in addition to improving dose efficiency. The magnitude of this reduction depends on the detector, with paralyzable detectors showing much greater benefit than nonparalyzable detectors.

    View details for DOI 10.1088/0031-9155/59/11/2829

    View details for Web of Science ID 000336459000018

    View details for PubMedID 24819415

  • Control algorithms for dynamic attenuators MEDICAL PHYSICS Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2014; 41 (6)


    The authors describe algorithms to control dynamic attenuators in CT and compare their performance using simulated scans. Dynamic attenuators are prepatient beam shaping filters that modulate the distribution of x-ray fluence incident on the patient on a view-by-view basis. These attenuators can reduce dose while improving key image quality metrics such as peak or mean variance. In each view, the attenuator presents several degrees of freedom which may be individually adjusted. The total number of degrees of freedom across all views is very large, making many optimization techniques impractical. The authors develop a theory for optimally controlling these attenuators. Special attention is paid to a theoretically perfect attenuator which controls the fluence for each ray individually, but the authors also investigate and compare three other, practical attenuator designs which have been previously proposed: the piecewise-linear attenuator, the translating attenuator, and the double wedge attenuator.The authors pose and solve the optimization problems of minimizing the mean and peak variance subject to a fixed dose limit. For a perfect attenuator and mean variance minimization, this problem can be solved in simple, closed form. For other attenuator designs, the problem can be decomposed into separate problems for each view to greatly reduce the computational complexity. Peak variance minimization can be approximately solved using iterated, weighted mean variance (WMV) minimization. Also, the authors develop heuristics for the perfect and piecewise-linear attenuators which do not require a priori knowledge of the patient anatomy. The authors compare these control algorithms on different types of dynamic attenuators using simulated raw data from forward projected DICOM files of a thorax and an abdomen.The translating and double wedge attenuators reduce dose by an average of 30% relative to current techniques (bowtie filter with tube current modulation) without increasing peak variance. The 15-element piecewise-linear dynamic attenuator reduces dose by an average of 42%, and the perfect attenuator reduces dose by an average of 50%. Improvements in peak variance are several times larger than improvements in mean variance. Heuristic control eliminates the need for a prescan. For the piecewise-linear attenuator, the cost of heuristic control is an increase in dose of 9%. The proposed iterated WMV minimization produces results that are within a few percent of the true solution.Dynamic attenuators show potential for significant dose reduction. A wide class of dynamic attenuators can be accurately controlled using the described methods.

    View details for DOI 10.1118/1.4875727

    View details for Web of Science ID 000337106300025

    View details for PubMedID 24877818

  • Dose reduction using a dynamic, piecewise-linear attenuator MEDICAL PHYSICS Hsieh, S. S., Fleischmann, D., Pelc, N. J. 2014; 41 (2)


    The authors recently proposed a dynamic, prepatient x-ray attenuator capable of producing a piecewise-linear attenuation profile customized to each patient and viewing angle. This attenuator was intended to reduce scatter-to-primary ratio (SPR), dynamic range, and dose by redistributing flux. In this work the authors tested the ability of the attenuator to reduce dose and SPR in simulations.The authors selected four clinical applications, including routine full field-of-view scans of the thorax and abdomen, and targeted reconstruction tasks for an abdominal aortic aneurysm and the pancreas. Raw data were estimated by forward projection of the image volume datasets. The dynamic attenuator was controlled to reduce dose while maintaining peak variance by solving a convex optimization problem, assuminga priori knowledge of the patient anatomy. In targeted reconstruction tasks, the noise in specific regions was given increased weighting. A system with a standard attenuator (or "bowtie filter") was used as a reference, and used either convex optimized tube current modulation (TCM) or a standard TCM heuristic. The noise of the scan was determined analytically while the dose was estimated using Monte Carlo simulations. Scatter was also estimated using Monte Carlo simulations. The sensitivity of the dynamic attenuator to patient centering was also examined by shifting the abdomen in 2 cm intervals.Compared to a reference system with optimized TCM, use of the dynamic attenuator reduced dose by about 30% in routine scans and 50% in targeted scans. Compared to the TCM heuristics which are typically used withouta priori knowledge, the dose reduction is about 50% for routine scans. The dynamic attenuator gives the ability to redistribute noise and variance and produces more uniform noise profiles than systems with a conventional bowtie filter. The SPR was also modestly reduced by 10% in the thorax and 24% in the abdomen. Imaging with the dynamic attenuator was relatively insensitive to patient centering, showing a 17% increase in peak variance for a 6 cm shift of the abdomen, instead of an 82% increase in peak variance for a fixed bowtie filter.A dynamic prepatient x-ray attenuator consisting of multiple wedges is capable of achieving substantial dose reductions and modest SPR reductions.

    View details for DOI 10.1118/1.4862079

    View details for Web of Science ID 000331213300043

    View details for PubMedID 24506631

  • Segmented Targeted Least Squares Estimator for Material Decomposition in Multi-Bin PCXDs MEDICAL IMAGING 2014: PHYSICS OF MEDICAL IMAGING Rajbhandary, P. L., Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2014; 9033

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.2043198

    View details for Web of Science ID 000338775800042

  • Enabling Photon Counting Detectors with Dynamic Attenuators MEDICAL IMAGING 2014: PHYSICS OF MEDICAL IMAGING Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2014; 9033

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.2042533

    View details for Web of Science ID 000338775800122

  • Algorithms for Optimizing CT Fluence Control MEDICAL IMAGING 2014: PHYSICS OF MEDICAL IMAGING Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2014; 9033

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.2042542

    View details for Web of Science ID 000338775800019

  • Use of Depth Information from In-depth Photon Counting Detectors for X-ray Spectral Imaging: A Preliminary Simulation Study MEDICAL IMAGING 2014: PHYSICS OF MEDICAL IMAGING Yao, Y., Bornefalk, H., Hsieh, S. S., Danielsson, M., Pelc, N. J. 2014; 9033

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.2042839

    View details for Web of Science ID 000338775800117

  • The feasibility of a piecewise-linear dynamic bowtie filter MEDICAL PHYSICS Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2013; 40 (3)


    The prepatient attenuator (or "bowtie filter") in CT is used to modulate the flux as a function of fan angle of the x-ray beam incident on the patient. Traditional, static bowtie filters are tailored only for very generic scans and for the average patient. The authors propose a design for a dynamic bowtie that can produce a time-dependent piecewise-linear attenuation profile. This dynamic bowtie may reduce dynamic range, dose or scatter, but in this work they focus on its ability to reduce dynamic range, which may be particularly important for systems employing photon-counting detectors.The dynamic bowtie is composed of a set of triangular wedges. Each wedge is independently moved in order to produce a time-dependent piecewise-linear attenuation profile. Simulations of the bowtie are conducted to estimate the dynamic range reduction in six clinical datasets. The control of the dynamic bowtie is determined by solving a convex optimization problem, and the dose is estimated using Monte Carlo techniques. Beam hardening artifacts are also simulated.The dynamic range is reduced by factors ranging from 2.4 to 27 depending on the part of the body studied. With a dynamic range minimization objective, the dose to the patient can be reduced from 6% to 33% while maintaining peak image noise. Further reduction in dose may be possible with a specific dose reduction objective. Beam hardening artifacts are suppressed with a two-pass algorithm.A dynamic bowtie producing a time-dependent, piecewise-linear attenuation profile is possible and can be used to modulate the flux of the scanner to the imaging task. Initial simulations show a large reduction in dynamic range. Several other applications are possible.

    View details for DOI 10.1118/1.4789630

    View details for Web of Science ID 000316369400033

    View details for PubMedID 23464325

  • The feasibility of an inverse geometry CT system with stationary source arrays. Medical physics Hsieh, S. S., Heanue, J. A., Funk, T., Hinshaw, W. S., Wilfley, B. P., Solomon, E. G., Pelc, N. J. 2013; 40 (3): 031904-?


    Inverse geometry computed tomography (IGCT) has been proposed as a new system architecture that combines a small detector with a large, distributed source. This geometry can suppress cone-beam artifacts, reduce scatter, and increase dose efficiency. However, the temporal resolution of IGCT is still limited by the gantry rotation time. Large reductions in rotation time are in turn difficult due to the large source array and associated power electronics. We examine the feasibility of using stationary source arrays for IGCT in order to achieve better temporal resolution. We anticipate that multiple source arrays are necessary, with each source array physically separated from adjacent ones.Key feasibility issues include spatial resolution, artifacts, flux, noise, collimation, and system timing clashes. The separation between the different source arrays leads to missing views, complicating reconstruction. For the special case of three source arrays, a two-stage reconstruction algorithm is used to estimate the missing views. Collimation is achieved using a rotating collimator with a small number of holes. A set of equally spaced source spots are designated on the source arrays, and a source spot is energized when a collimator hole is aligned with it. System timing clashes occur when multiple source spots are scheduled to be energized simultaneously. We examine flux considerations to evaluate whether sufficient flux is available for clinical applications.The two-stage reconstruction algorithm suppresses cone-beam artifacts while maintaining resolution and noise characteristics comparable to standard third generation systems. The residual artifacts are much smaller in magnitude than the cone-beam artifacts eliminated. A mathematical condition is given relating collimator hole locations and the number of virtual source spots for which system timing clashes are avoided. With optimization, sufficient flux may be achieved for many clinical applications.IGCT with stationary source arrays could be an imaging platform potentially capable of imaging a complete 16-cm thick volume within a tenth of a second.

    View details for DOI 10.1118/1.4789918

    View details for PubMedID 23464319

  • Optimized control of a dynamic, prepatient attenuator MEDICAL IMAGING 2013: PHYSICS OF MEDICAL IMAGING Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2013; 8668

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.2008229

    View details for Web of Science ID 000322002700058

  • Dynamic bowtie for fan-beam CT JOURNAL OF X-RAY SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Liu, F., Wang, G., Cong, W., Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2013; 21 (4): 579-590


    A bowtie is a filter used to shape an x-ray beam and equalize its flux reaching different detector channels. For development of spectral CT with energy discriminating photon-counting (EDPC) detectors, here we propose and evaluate a dynamic bowtie for performance optimization based on a patient model or a scout scan. With a mechanical rotation of a dynamic bowtie and an adaptive adjustment of an x-ray source flux, an x-ray beam intensity profile can be modulated. First, a mathematical model for dynamic bowtie filtering is established for an elliptical section in fan-beam geometry, and the contour of the optimal bowtie is derived. Then, numerical simulation is performed to compare the performance of the dynamic bowtie in the cases of an ideal phantom and a realistic cross-section relative to the counterparts without any bowtie and with a fixed bowtie respectively. Our dynamic bowtie can equalize the expected numbers of photons in the case of an ideal phantom. In practical cases, our dynamic bowtie can effectively reduce the dynamic range of detected signals inside the field of view. Although our design is optimized for an elliptical phantom, the resultant dynamic bowtie can be applied to a real fan-beam scan if the underlying cross-section can be approximated as an ellipse. Furthermore, our design methodology can be applied to specify an optimized dynamic bowtie for any cross-section of a patient, preferably using rapid prototyping technology.

    View details for DOI 10.3233/XST-130386

    View details for Web of Science ID 000326747000012

    View details for PubMedID 24191994

  • Truncation artifact correction by support recovery MEDICAL IMAGING 2013: PHYSICS OF MEDICAL IMAGING Hsieh, S. S., Cao, G., Nett, B. E., Pelc, N. J. 2013; 8668

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.2008224

    View details for Web of Science ID 000322002700124

  • A volumetric reconstruction algorithm for stationary source inverse-geometry CT MEDICAL IMAGING 2012: PHYSICS OF MEDICAL IMAGING Hsieh, S. S., Pelc, N. J. 2012; 8313

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.912490

    View details for Web of Science ID 000304768000126

  • An inverse geometry CT system with stationary source arrays MEDICAL IMAGING 2011: PHYSICS OF MEDICAL IMAGING Hsieh, S. S., Heanue, J. A., Funk, T., Hinshaw, W. S., Pelc, N. J. 2011; 7961

    View details for DOI 10.1117/12.878801

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294178500063

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