Metal artifacts present a challenge to cone-beam CT (CBCT) image-guided surgery, obscuring visualization of metal instruments and adjacent anatomy - often in the very region of interest pertinent to the imaging/surgical tasks. We present a method to reduce the influence of metal artifacts by prospectively defining an image acquisition protocol - viz., the C-arm source-detector orbit - that mitigates metal-induced biases in the projection data. The metal artifact avoidance (MAA) method is compatible with simple mobile C-arms, does not require exact prior information on the patient or metal implants, and is consistent with 3D filtered backprojection (FBP), more advanced (e.g. polyenergetic) model-based image reconstruction (MBIR), and metal artifact reduction (MAR) post-processing methods. The MAA method consists of: (i) coarse localization of metal objects in the field-of-view (FOV) via two or more low-dose scout projection views and segmentation (e.g. a simple U-Net) in coarse backprojection; (ii) model-based prediction of metal-induced x-ray spectral shift for all source-detector vertices accessible by the imaging system (e.g. gantry rotation and tilt angles); and (iii) identification of a circular or non-circular orbit that reduces the variation in spectral shift. The method was developed, tested, and evaluated in a series of studies presenting increasing levels of complexity and realism, including digital simulations, phantom experiment, and cadaver experiment in the context of image-guided spine surgery (pedicle screw implants). The MAA method accurately predicted tilted circular and non-circular orbits that reduced the magnitude of metal artifacts in CBCT reconstructions. Realistic distributions of metal instrumentation were successfully localized (0.71 median Dice coefficient) from 2-6 low-dose scout views even in complex anatomical scenes. The MAA-predicted tilted circular orbits reduced root-mean-square error (RMSE) in 3D image reconstructions by 46%-70% and 'blooming' artifacts (apparent width of the screw shaft) by 20-45%. Non-circular orbits defined by MAA achieved a further ∼46% reduction in RMSE compared to the best (tilted) circular orbit. The MAA method presents a practical means to predict C-arm orbits that minimize spectral bias from metal instrumentation. Resulting orbits - either simple tilted circular orbits or more complex non-circular orbits that can be executed with a motorized multi-axis C-arm - exhibited substantial reduction of metal artifacts in raw CBCT reconstructions by virtue of higher fidelity projection data, which are in turn compatible with subsequent MAR post-processing and/or polyenergetic MBIR to further reduce artifacts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging