An Improved Iterative Neural Network for High-Quality Image-Domain Material Decomposition in Dual-Energy CT
Dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) has been widely used in many applications that need material decomposition. Image-domain methods directly decompose material images from high- and low-energy attenuation images, and thus, are susceptible to noise and artifacts on attenuation images. The purpose of this study is to develop an improved iterative neural network (INN) for high-quality image-domain material decomposition in DECT, and to study its properties. We propose a new INN architecture for DECT material decomposition. The proposed INN architecture uses distinct cross-material convolutional neural network (CNN) in image refining modules, and uses image decomposition physics in image reconstruction modules. The distinct cross-material CNN refiners incorporate distinct encoding-decoding filters and cross-material model that captures correlations between different materials. We study the distinct cross-material CNN refiner with patch-based reformulation and tight-frame condition. Numerical experiments with extended cardiactorso (XCAT) phantom and clinical data show that the proposed INN significantly improves the image quality over several image-domain material decomposition methods, including a conventional model-based image decomposition (MBID) method using an edge-preserving regularizer, a recent MBID method using pre-learned material-wise sparsifying transforms, and a noniterative deep CNN method. Our study with patch-based reformulations reveals that learned filters of distinct cross-material CNN refiners can approximately satisfy the tight-frame condition.