Correlation Imaging for Improved Cancer Detection

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We present a new x-ray imaging technique, Correlation Imaging (CI), for improved breast and lung cancer detection. In CI, multiple low-dose radiographic images are acquired along a limited angular arc. Information from unreconstructed angular projections is directly combined to reduce the effect of overlying anatomy - the largest bottleneck in diagnosing cancer with projection imaging. In addition, CI avoids reconstruction artifacts that otherwise limit the performance of tomosynthesis. This work involved assessing the feasibility of the CI technique, its optimization, and its implementation for breast and chest imaging.

First a theoretical model was developed to determine the diagnostic information content of projection images using a mathematical observer. The model was benchmarked for a specific application in assessing the impact of reduced dose in mammography. Using this model, a multi-factorial task-based framework was developed to optimize the image acquisition of CI using existing low-dose clinical data. The framework was further validated using a CADe processor. Performance of CI was evaluated on mastectomy specimens at clinically relevant doses and further compared to tomosynthesis. Finally, leveraging on the expected improvement in breast imaging, a new hardware capable of CI acquisition for chest imaging was designed, prototyped, evaluated, and experimentally validated.

The theoretical model successfully predicted diagnostic performance on mammographic backgrounds, indicating a possible reduction in mammography dose by as much as 50% without adversely affecting lesion detection. Application of this model on low-dose clinical data showed that peak CI performance may be obtained with 15-17 projections. CAD results confirmed similar trends. Mastectomy specimen results at higher dose revealed that the performance of optimized breast CI may exceed that of mammography and tomosynthesis by 18% and 8%, respectively. Furthermore, for both CI and tomosynthesis, highest dose setting and maximum angular span with an angular separation of 2.75o was found to be optimum, indicating a threshold in the number of projections per angular span for optimum performance.

Finally, for the CI chest imaging system, the positional errors were found to be within 1% and motion blur to have minimal impact on the system MTF. The clinical images had excellent diagnostic quality for potentially improved lung cancer detection. The system was found to be robust and scalable to enable advanced applications for chest radiography, including novel tomosynthesis trajectories and stereoscopic imaging.





Chawla, Amarpreet (2008). Correlation Imaging for Improved Cancer Detection. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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