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In IEEE transactions on medical imaging ; h5-index 74.0

X-ray computed tomography (CT) is of great clinical significance in medical practice because it can provide anatomical information about the human body without invasion, while its radiation risk has continued to attract public concerns. Reducing the radiation dose may induce noise and artifacts to the reconstructed images, which will interfere with the judgments of radiologists. Previous studies have confirmed that deep learning (DL) is promising for improving low-dose CT imaging. However, almost all the DL-based methods suffer from subtle structure degeneration and blurring effect after aggressive denoising, which has become the general challenging issue. This paper develops the Comprehensive Learning Enabled Adversarial Reconstruction (CLEAR) method to tackle the above problems. CLEAR achieves subtle structure enhanced low-dose CT imaging through a progressive improvement strategy. First, the generator established on the comprehensive domain can extract more features than the one built on degraded CT images and directly map raw projections to high-quality CT images, which is significantly different from the routine GAN practice. Second, a multi-level loss is assigned to the generator to push all the network components to be updated towards high-quality reconstruction, preserving the consistency between generated images and gold-standard images. Finally, following the WGAN-GP modality, CLEAR can migrate the real statistical properties to the generated images to alleviate over-smoothing. Qualitative and quantitative analyses have demonstrated the competitive performance of CLEAR in terms of noise suppression, structural fidelity and visual perception improvement.

Zhang Yikun, Hu Dianlin, Zhao Qianlong, Quan Guotao, Liu Jin, Liu Qiegeng, Zhang Yi, Coatrieux Gouenou, Chen Yang, Yu Hengyong