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In Biomedical physics & engineering express

The successful development of the image denoising techniques for low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) was largely owing to the public-domain availability of spatially-aligned high- and low-dose CT image pairs. Even though low-dose CT scans are also highly desired in dental imaging, public-domain databases of dental CT image pairs have not been established yet. In this paper, we propose a dental CT image denoising method based on the transfer learning of a generative adversarial network (GAN) from the public-domain CT images. We trained a generative adversarial network with the Wasserstein loss function (WGAN) using 5,100 high- and low-dose medical CT image pairs of human chest and abdomen. For the generative network of GAN, we used the U-net structure of five stages to exploit its high computational efficiency. After training the proposed network, named U-WGAN, we fine-tuned the network with 3,006 dental CT image pairs of two different human skull phantoms. For the high- and low-dose scans of the phantoms, we set the tube current of the dental CT to 10 mA and 4 mA, respectively, with the tube voltage set to 90 kVp in both scans. We applied the trained network to denoising of low-dose dental CT images of dental phantoms and adult humans. The U-net processed images showed over-smoothing effects even though U-net had a good performance in the quantitative metrics. U-WGAN showed similar denoising performance to WGAN, but it reduced the computation time of WGAN by a factor of 10. The fine-tuning procedure in the transfer learning scheme enhanced the network performance in terms of the quantitative metrics, and it also improved visual appearance of the processed images. Even though the number of fine-tuning images was very limited in this study, we think the transfer learning scheme can be a good option for developing deep learning networks for dental CT image denoising.

Hegazy Mohamed A A, Cho Myung Hye, Lee Soo Yeol