A method to measure slice sensitivity profiles of CT images under low-contrast and high-noise conditions

Published:March 30, 2019DOI:


      • A method to measure low-contrast high-noise SSP of nonlinear CT images was developed.
      • Low-contrast plastic sheet is used as a weak impulsive test object.
      • Accurate SSP is obtainable even when a test object is indistinct against noise.
      • Each different peculiar behavior of low-CNR SSP is disclosed for three IR methods.


      Noise reduction features of iterative reconstruction (IR) methods in computed tomography might accompany the sacrifice of the longitudinal resolution, or slice sensitivity profile (SSP), at low contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) conditions. To assess the benefit of IR methods correctly, the difference of SSP between IR methods and filtered-backprojection (FBP) must be taken into account. Therefore, SSP measurement under low-CNR conditions is necessary. Although edge methods are predominantly used, their performance under low-CNR conditions appears to be not fully established. We developed a method that is compatible with extremely low-CNR conditions. Thin plastic disk-shaped sheets embedded in acrylic resin were used as low-contrast test objects. The lowest peak contrast used was approximately 17 [HU]. We assessed the performance of our method by using FBP images. We identified a source of measurement instability aside from noise: the measured thin-slice SSP is dependent on the orbital phase of helical scan, presumably because of cone–beam artifacts. This impediment to high accuracy is manageable using phase-controlled scans. We confirmed that table position repeatability is much better than the value of the specifications, and therefore the ensemble-averaged images of multiple scans can be used for SSP measurement. Accurate measurement of SSP under extremely low-CNR conditions is possible, even when the test object is visually indiscernible from the noisy background. Low-contrast SSP behavior is elucidated for IR methods (AIDR-3D, FIRST, and AiSR-V) by using this measurement method.


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