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In European radiology ; h5-index 62.0

OBJECTIVE : To evaluate image quality and diagnostic confidence improvement using a thin slice and a deep learning image reconstruction (DLIR) in contrast-enhanced abdominal CT.

METHODS : Forty patients with hepatic lesions in enhanced abdominal CT were retrospectively analyzed. Images in the portal phase were reconstructed at 5 mm and 1.25 mm slice thickness using the 50% adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASIR-V) (ASIR-V50%) and at 1.25 mm using DLIR at medium (DLIR-M) and high (DLIR-H) settings. CT number and standard deviation of the hepatic parenchyma, spleen, portal vein, and subcutaneous fat were measured, and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) was calculated. Edge-rise-slope (ERS) was measured on the portal vein to reflect spatial resolution and the CT number skewness on liver parenchyma was calculated to reflect image texture. Two radiologists blindly assessed the overall image quality including subjective noise, image contrast, visibility of small structures using a 5-point scale, and object sharpness and lesion contour using a 4-point scale.

RESULTS : For the 1.25-mm images, DLIR significantly reduced image noise, improved CNR and overall subjective image quality compared to ASIR-V50%. Compared to the 5-mm ASIR-V50% images, DLIR images had significantly higher scores in the visibility and contour for small structures and lesions; as well as significantly higher ERS and lower CT number skewness. At a quarter of the signal strength, the 1.25-mm DLIR-H images had a similar subjective noise score as the 5-mm ASIR-V50% images.

CONCLUSION : DLIR significantly reduces image noise and maintains a more natural image texture; image spatial resolution and diagnostic confidence can be improved using thin slice images and DLIR in abdominal CT.

KEY POINTS : • DLIR further reduces image noise compared with ASIR-V while maintaining favorable image texture. • In abdominal CT, thinner slice images improve image spatial resolution and small object visualization but suffer from higher image noise. • Thinner slice images combined with DLIR in abdominal CT significantly suppress image noise for detecting low-density lesions while significantly improving image spatial resolution and overall image quality.

Cao Le, Liu Xiang, Qu Tingting, Cheng Yannan, Li Jianying, Li Yanan, Chen Lihong, Niu Xinyi, Tian Qian, Guo Jianxin


Computed tomography, Deep learning, Image quality, Image reconstruction