Kidney DCE-MRI aims at both qualitative assessment of kidney anatomy and quantitative assessment of kidney function by estimating the tracer kinetic (TK) model parameters. Accurate estimation of TK model parameters requires an accurate measurement of the arterial input function (AIF) with high temporal resolution. Accelerated imaging is used to achieve high temporal resolution, which yields under-sampling artifacts in the reconstructed images. Compressed sensing (CS) methods offer a variety of reconstruction options. Most commonly, sparsity of temporal differences is encouraged for regularization to reduce artifacts. Increasing regularization in CS methods removes the ambient artifacts but also over-smooths the signal temporally which reduces the parameter estimation accuracy. In this work, we propose a single image trained deep neural network to reduce MRI under-sampling artifacts without reducing the accuracy of functional imaging markers. Instead of regularizing with a penalty term in optimization, we promote regularization by generating images from a lower dimensional representation. In this manuscript we motivate and explain the lower dimensional input design. We compare our approach to CS reconstructions with multiple regularization weights. Proposed approach results in kidney biomarkers that are highly correlated with the ground truth markers estimated using the CS reconstruction which was optimized for functional analysis. At the same time, the proposed approach reduces the artifacts in the reconstructed images.
There is a growing demand for fast, accurate computation of clinical markers to improve renal function and anatomy assessment with a single study. However, conventional techniques have limitations leading to overestimations of kidney function or failure to provide sufficient spatial resolution to target the disease location. In contrast, the computer-aided analysis of dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could generate significant markers, including the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and time–intensity curves of the cortex and medulla for determining obstruction in the urinary tract. This paper presents a dual-stage fully modular framework for automatic renal compartment segmentation in 4D DCE-MRI volumes. (1) Memory-efficient 3D deep learning is integrated to localise each kidney by harnessing residual convolutional neural networks for improved convergence; segmentation is performed by efficiently learning spatial–temporal information coupled with boundary-preserving fully convolutional dense nets. (2) Renal contextual information is enhanced via non-linear transformation to segment the cortex and medulla. The proposed framework is evaluated on a paediatric dataset containing 60 4D DCE-MRI volumes exhibiting varying conditions affecting kidney function. Our technique outperforms a state-of-the-art approach based on a GrabCut and support vector machine classifier in mean dice similarity (DSC) by 3.8% and demonstrates higher statistical stability with lower standard deviation by 12.4% and 15.7% for cortex and medulla segmentation, respectively.