Purpose: Lack of access to projection data from patient CT scans is a major limitation for development and validation of new reconstruction algorithms. To meet this critical need, this work developed and validated a vendor-neutral format for CT projection data, which will further be employed to build a library of patient projection data for public access. Methods: A digital imaging and communication in medicine (DICOM)-like format was created for CT projection data (CT-PD), named the DICOM-CT-PD format. The format stores attenuation information in the DICOM image data block and stores parameters necessary for reconstruction in the DICOM header under various tags (51 tags to store the geometry and scan parameters and 9 tags to store patient information). To validate the accuracy and completeness of the new format, CT projection data from helical scans of the ACR CT accreditation phantom were acquired from two clinical CT scanners (Somatom Definition Flash, Siemens Healthcare, Forchheim, Germany and Discovery CT750 HD, GE Healthcare, Waukesha, WI). After decoding (by the authors for Siemens, by the manufacturer for GE), the projection data were converted to the DICOM-CT-PD format. Off-line CT reconstructions were performed by internal and external reconstruction researchers using only the information stored in the DICOM-CT-PD files and the DICOM-CT-PD field definitions. Results: Compared with the commercially reconstructed CT images, the off-line reconstructed images created using the DICOM-CT-PD format are similar in terms of CT numbers (differences of 5 HU for the bone insert and -9 HU for the air insert), image noise (±1 HU), and low contrast detectability (6 mm rods visible in both). Because of different reconstruction approaches, slightly different in-plane and cross-plane high contrast spatial resolution were obtained compared to those reconstructed on the scanners (axial plane: GE off-line, 7 lp/cm; GE commercial, 7 lp/cm; Siemens off-line, 8 lp/cm; Siemens commercial, 7 lp/cm. Coronal plane: Siemens off-line, 6 lp/cm; Siemens commercial, 8 lp/cm). Conclusions: A vendor-neutral extended DICOM format has been developed that enables open sharing of CT projection data from third-generation CT scanners. Validation of the format showed that the geometric parameters and attenuation information in the DICOM-CT-PD file were correctly stored, could be retrieved with use of the provided instructions, and contained sufficient data for reconstruction of CT images that approximated those from the commercial scanner.
- open format
- patient data library
- projection data
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging