Software-based respiratory gating for small animal conebeam CT
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In volumetric CT imaging of small animals, the breathing motion of the lungs during the image acquisition process results in inconsistent projection data being acquired. When reconstructed, these inconsistent data may produce images with reduced spatial resolution and image contrast. In order to minimize these effects, various approaches have been utilized to capture the respiratory signal of the animals under study and to only obtain CT data at specific moments in the respiratory cycle. These approaches typically utilize hardware-based physiological monitoring equipment in order to record the respiratory signal and either prospectively or retrospectively correlate this signal with acquired CT projection data. In this work, a new method of CT respiratory gating is described that does not rely on external physiological monitoring. Rather, determination of the respiratory phase of the animal is performed by postprocessing the acquired projection data. With this approach, any CT projection data can be respiratory gated with minimal effort. Validation of the method has been performed using a dynamic phantom and accuracy in tidal volumes determined to be within 16%. Rats and mice have been scanned and processed using the proposed method and compared to physiological-based measurement. With the proposed method, image quality is significantly improved in addition to providing quantitative information regarding tidal lung volumes.
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