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In International journal of computer assisted radiology and surgery

PURPOSE : The usage of iodinated contrast media (ICM) can improve the sensitivity and specificity of computed tomography (CT) for many clinical indications. However, the adverse effects of ICM administration can include renal injury, life-threatening allergic-like reactions, and environmental contamination. Deep learning (DL) models can generate full-dose ICM CT images from non-contrast or low-dose ICM administration or generate non-contrast CT from full-dose ICM CT. Eliminating the need for both contrast-enhanced and non-enhanced imaging or reducing the amount of required contrast while maintaining diagnostic capability may reduce overall patient risk, improve efficiency and minimize costs. We reviewed the current capabilities of DL to reduce the need for contrast administration in CT.

METHODS : We conducted a systematic review of articles utilizing DL to reduce the amount of ICM required in CT, searching MEDLINE, Embase, Compendex, Inspec, and Scopus to identify papers published from 2016 to 2022. We classified the articles based on the DL model and ICM reduction.

RESULTS : Eighteen papers met the inclusion criteria for analysis. Of these, ten generated synthetic full-dose (100%) ICM from real non-contrast CT, while four augmented low-dose to full-dose ICM CT. Three used DL to create synthetic non-contrast CT from real 100% ICM CT, while one paper used DL to translate the 100% ICM to non-contrast CT and vice versa. DL models commonly used generative adversarial networks trained and tested by paired contrast-enhanced and non-contrast or low ICM CTs. Image quality metrics such as peak signal-to-noise ratio and structural similarity index were frequently used for comparing synthetic versus real CT image quality.

CONCLUSION : DL-generated contrast-enhanced or non-contrast CT may assist in diagnosis and radiation therapy planning; however, further work to optimize protocols to reduce or eliminate ICM for specific pathology is still needed along with a dedicated assessment of the clinical utility of these synthetic images.

Azarfar Ghazal, Ko Seok-Bum, Adams Scott J, Babyn Paul S


Computed tomography, Contrast enhancement, Deep learning, Iodinated contrast media reduction