Purpose: Polychromatic x-rays are used in most computed tomography scanners. In this case, a beam-hardening effect occurs, which degrades the image quality and distorts the shapes of objects in the reconstructed images. When the beam-hardening artifact is not severe, conventional correction methods can reduce the artifact reasonably well. However, highly dense materials, such as iron and titanium, can produce more severe beam-hardening artifacts, which often cannot be corrected by conventional methods. Moreover, when the size of the metal is large, severe darks bands due to photon starvation as well as beam-hardening are generated. The purpose of our study was to develop a new method for correcting severe beam-hardening artifacts and severe dark bands using a high-order polynomial correction function and a prior-image-based linearization method. Methods: The initial estimate of an image free of beam-hardening (a prior image) was constructed from the initial reconstruction of the original projection data. Its corresponding beam-hardening-free projection data (a prior projection) were calculated by a projection operator onto the prior image. A new beam-hardening correction function G(praw) with many high-order terms was effectively determined via a simple minimization process applied to the difference between the original projection data and the prior projection data. Using the determined correction function G(praw), a corrected linearized sinogram pcorr can be obtained, which became effectively linear for the line integrals of the object. Final beam-hardening corrected images can be reconstructed from the linearized sinogram. The proposed method was evaluated in both simulation and real experimental studies. Results: All investigated cases in both simulations and real experiments showed that the proposed method effectively removed not only streaks for moderate beam-hardening artifacts but also dark bands for severe beam-hardening artifacts without causing structural and contrast distortion. Conclusions: The prior-image-based linearization method exhibited better correction performance than conventional methods. Because the proposed method did not require time-consuming iterative reconstruction processes to obtain the optimal correction function, it can expedite the correction procedure and incorporate more high-order terms in the linearization correction function in comparison to the conventional methods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging