Photon-counting cine-cardiac CT in the mouse.

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The maturation of photon-counting detector (PCD) technology promises to enhance routine CT imaging applications with high-fidelity spectral information. In this paper, we demonstrate the power of this synergy and our complementary reconstruction techniques, performing 4D, cardiac PCD-CT data acquisition and reconstruction in a mouse model of atherosclerosis, including calcified plaque. Specifically, in vivo cardiac micro-CT scans were performed in four ApoE knockout mice, following their development of calcified plaques. The scans were performed with a prototype PCD (DECTRIS, Ltd.) with 4 energy thresholds. Projections were sampled every 10 ms with a 10 ms exposure, allowing the reconstruction of 10 cardiac phases at each of 4 energies (40 total 3D volumes per mouse scan). Reconstruction was performed iteratively using the split Bregman method with constraints on spectral rank and spatio-temporal gradient sparsity. The reconstructed images represent the first in vivo, 4D PCD-CT data in a mouse model of atherosclerosis. Robust regularization during iterative reconstruction yields high-fidelity results: an 8-fold reduction in noise standard deviation for the highest energy threshold (relative to unregularized algebraic reconstruction), while absolute spectral bias measurements remain below 13 Hounsfield units across all energy thresholds and scans. Qualitatively, image domain material decomposition results show clear separation of iodinated contrast and soft tissue from calcified plaque in the in vivo data. Quantitatively, spatial, spectral, and temporal fidelity are verified through a water phantom scan and a realistic MOBY phantom simulation experiment: spatial resolution is robustly preserved by iterative reconstruction (10% MTF: 2.8-3.0 lp/mm), left-ventricle, cardiac functional metrics can be measured from iodine map segmentations with ~1% error, and small calcifications (615 μm) can be detected during slow moving phases of the cardiac cycle. Given these preliminary results, we believe that PCD technology will enhance dynamic CT imaging applications with high-fidelity spectral and material information.





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Clark, Darin P, Matthew Holbrook, Chang-Lung Lee and Cristian T Badea (2019). Photon-counting cine-cardiac CT in the mouse. PloS one, 14(9). p. e0218417. 10.1371/journal.pone.0218417 Retrieved from

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Darin Clark

Assistant Professor in Radiology

Chang Lung Lee

Assistant Professor in Radiation Oncology

The overall goal of the Lee lab’s research program is to improve the therapeutic window of radiation therapy and the survivorship of cancer patients by minimizing acute and late effects of radiation. Our current NIH-funded projects primarily focus on defining the mechanisms underlying the regeneration of epithelial cells in the oral mucosa and the small intestines in response to radiation injury. In addition, we are developing novel medical countermeasures for gastrointestinal acute radiation syndrome as well as radiation-induced intestinal fibrosis in the scenarios of nuclear terrorism.


Cristian Tudorel Badea

Professor in Radiology

  • Our lab's research focus lies primarily in developing novel quantitative imaging systems, reconstruction algorithms and analysis methods.  My major expertise is in preclinical CT.
  • Currently, we are particularly interested in developing novel strategies for spectral CT imaging using nanoparticle-based contrast agents for theranostics (i.e. therapy and diagnostics).
  • We are also engaged in developing new approaches for multidimensional CT image reconstruction suitable to address difficult undersampling cases in cardiac and spectral CT (dual energy and photon counting) using compressed sensing and/or deep learning.

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