Iterative Low-dose CT Reconstruction with Priors Trained by Artificial Neural Network

Dose reduction in computed tomography (CT) is essential for decreasing radiation risk in clinical applications. Iterative reconstruction algorithms are one of the most promising way to compensate for the increased noise due to reduction of photon flux. Most iterative reconstruction algorithms incorporate manually designed prior functions of the reconstructed image to suppress noises while maintaining structures of the image. These priors basically relied on smoothness constraints cannot exploit more complex features of the image. The recent development of artificial neural networks and machine learning enabled learning of more complex features of image, which has the potential to improve reconstruction quality. In this work, K-sparse autoencoder (KSAE) was used for unsupervised feature learning. A manifold was learned from normal-dose images and the distance between the reconstructed image and the manifold was minimized along with data fidelity during reconstruction. Experiments on 2016 Low-dose CT Grand Challenge was used for the method verification, and results demonstrated the noise reduction and detail preservation abilities of the proposed method.