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In Medical physics ; h5-index 59.0

PURPOSE : Computed tomography (CT) has played a vital role in medical diagnosis, assessment, and therapy planning, etc. In clinical practice, concerns about the increase of X-ray radiation exposure attract more and more attention. To lower the X-ray radiation, low-dose CT (LDCT) has been widely adopted in certain scenarios, while it will induce the degradation of CT image quality. In this paper, we proposed a deep learning-based method that can train denoising neural networks without any clean data.

METHODS : In this work, for 3D thin-slice LDCT scanning, we first drive an unsupervised loss function which was equivalent to a supervised loss function with paired noisy and clean samples when the noise in the different slices from a single scan was uncorrelated and zero-mean. Then, we trained the denoising neural network to map one noise LDCT image to its two adjacent LDCT images in a single 3D thin-layer LDCT scanning, simultaneously. In essence, with some latent assumptions, we proposed an unsupervised loss function to train the denoising neural network in an unsupervised manner, which integrated the similarity between adjacent CT slices in 3D thin-layer LDCT.

RESULTS : Further experiments on Mayo LDCT dataset and a realistic pig head were carried out. In the experiments using Mayo LDCT dataset, our unsupervised method can obtain performance comparable to that of the supervised baseline. With the realistic pig head, our method can achieve optimal performance at different noise levels as compared to all the other methods that demonstrated the superiority and robustness of the proposed Noise2Context.

CONCLUSIONS : In this work, we present a generalizable LDCT image denoising method without any clean data. As a result, our method not only gets rid of the complex artificial image priors but also amounts of paired high-quality training datasets.

Zhang Zhicheng, Liang Xiaokun, Zhao Wei, Xing Lei

2021-Jul-21

Deep learning, Image denoising, Low dose CT, Unsupervised learning