Respiratory gating helps to overcome the problem of breathing motion in cardiothoracic small-animal imaging by acquiring multiple images for each projection angle and then assigning projections to different phases. When this approach is used with a dose similar to that of a static acquisition, a low number of noisy projections are available for the reconstruction of each respiratory phase, thus leading to streak artifacts in the reconstructed images. This problem can be alleviated using a prior image constrained compressed sensing (PICCS) algorithm, which enables accurate reconstruction of highly undersampled data when a prior image is available. We compared variants of the PICCS algorithm with different transforms in the prior penalty function: gradient, unitary, and wavelet transform. In all cases the problem was solved using the Split Bregman approach, which is efficient for convex constrained optimization. The algorithms were evaluated using simulations generated from data previously acquired on a micro-CT scanner following a high-dose protocol (four times the dose of a standard static protocol). The resulting data were used to simulate scenarios with different dose levels and numbers of projections. All compressed sensing methods performed very similarly in terms of noise, spatiotemporal resolution, and streak reduction, and filtered back-projection was greatly improved. Nevertheless, the wavelet domain was found to be less prone to patchy cartoon-like artifacts than the commonly used gradient domain.
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