Four-dimensional cone beam CT reconstruction and enhancement using a temporal nonlocal means method

Xun Jia, Zhen Tian, Yifei Lou, Jan Jakob Sonke, Steve B. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Purpose: Four-dimensional cone beam computed tomography (4D-CBCT) has been developed to provide respiratory phase-resolved volumetric imaging in image guided radiation therapy. Conventionally, it is reconstructed by first sorting the x-ray projections into multiple respiratory phase bins according to a breathing signal extracted either from the projection images or some external surrogates, and then reconstructing a 3D CBCT image in each phase bin independently using FDK algorithm. This method requires adequate number of projections for each phase, which can be achieved using a low gantry rotation or multiple gantry rotations. Inadequate number of projections in each phase bin results in low quality 4D-CBCT images with obvious streaking artifacts. 4D-CBCT images at different breathing phases share a lot of redundant information, because they represent the same anatomy captured at slightly different temporal points. Taking this redundancy along the temporal dimension into account can in principle facilitate the reconstruction in the situation of inadequate number of projection images. In this work, the authors propose two novel 4D-CBCT algorithms: an iterative reconstruction algorithm and an enhancement algorithm, utilizing a temporal nonlocal means (TNLM) method. Methods: The authors define a TNLM energy term for a given set of 4D-CBCT images. Minimization of this term favors those 4D-CBCT images such that any anatomical features at one spatial point at one phase can be found in a nearby spatial point at neighboring phases. 4D-CBCT reconstruction is achieved by minimizing a total energy containing a data fidelity term and the TNLM energy term. As for the image enhancement, 4D-CBCT images generated by the FDK algorithm are enhanced by minimizing the TNLM function while keeping the enhanced images close to the FDK results. A forward-backward splitting algorithm and a Gauss-Jacobi iteration method are employed to solve the problems. The algorithms implementation on GPU is designed to avoid redundant and uncoalesced memory access, in order to ensure a high computational efficiency. Our algorithms have been tested on a digital NURBS-based cardiac-torso phantom and a clinical patient case. Results: The reconstruction algorithm and the enhancement algorithm generate visually similar 4D-CBCT images, both better than the FDK results. Quantitative evaluations indicate that, compared with the FDK results, our reconstruction method improves contrast-to-noise-ratio (CNR) by a factor of 2.56-3.13 and our enhancement method increases the CNR by 2.75-3.33 times. The enhancement method also removes over 80 of the streak artifacts from the FDK results. The total computation time is 509-683 s for the reconstruction algorithm and 524-540 s for the enhancement algorithm on an NVIDIA Tesla C1060 GPU card. Conclusions: By innovatively taking the temporal redundancy among 4D-CBCT images into consideration, the proposed algorithms can produce high quality 4D-CBCT images with much less streak artifacts than the FDK results, in the situation of inadequate number of projections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5592-5602
Number of pages11
JournalMedical physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • 4DCBCT reconstruction
  • GPU
  • image enhancement
  • temporal nonlocal means

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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