Three-dimensional rotational micro-angiography
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Computed tomography (CT) is state-of-the-art for 3D imaging in which images are acquired about the patient and are used to reconstruct the data. But the commercial CT systems suffer from low spatial resolution (0.5-2 lp/mm). Micro-CT (μCT) systems have high resolution 3D reconstruction (>10 lp/mm), but are currently limited to small objects, e.g., small animals. To achieve artifact free reconstructions, geometric calibration of the rotating-object cone-beam μCT (CBμCT) system is performed using new techniques that use only the projection images of the object, i.e., no calibration objects are required. Translations (up to 0.2 mm) occurring during the acquisition in the horizontal direction are detected, quantified, and corrected based on sinogram analysis. The parameters describing the physical axis of rotation determined using our image-based method (aligning anti-posed images) agree well (within 0.1 mm and 0.3 degrees) with those determined using other techniques that use calibration objects. Geometric calibrations of the rotational angiography (RA) systems (clinical cone-beam CT systems with fluoroscopic capabilities provided by flat-panel detectors (FPD)) are performed using a simple single projection technique (SPT), which aligns a known 3D model of a calibration phantom with the projection data. The calibration parameters obtained by the SPT are found to be reproducible (angles within 0.2° and x- and y-translations less than 2 mm) for over 7 months. The spatial resolution of the RA systems is found to be virtually unaffected by such small geometric variations. Finally, using our understanding of the geometric calibrations, we have developed methods to combine relatively low-resolution RA acquisitions (2-3 lp/mm) with high resolution μCT acquisitions (using a high-resolution micro-angiographic fluoroscope (MAF) attached to the RA gantry) to produce the first-ever 3D rotational micro-angiography (3D-RμA) system on a clinical gantry. Images of a rabbit with a coronary stent placed in an artery were obtained and reconstructed. To eliminate artifacts due to image truncation, lower-dose (compared to the MAF acquisition) full-FOV (FFOV) FPD RA sequences are also obtained. To ensure high-quality high-resolution reconstruction, the high-resolution images from the MAF are aligned spatially with the lower-dose FPD images (average correlation coefficient before and after alignment: 0.65 and 0.97 respectively), and the pixel values in the FPD image data are scaled (using linear regression) to match those of the MAF. Greater details without any visible truncation artifacts are seen in 3D RμA (MAF-FPD) images than in those of the FPD alone. The FWHM of line profiles of stent struts (100 micron diameter) are approximately 192 ± 21 and 313 ± 38 microns for the 3D RμA and FPD data, respectively. Thus, with the RμA system, we have essentially developed a high resolution CBμCT system for clinical use.