A Fully Automated Non-external Marker 4D-CT Sorting Algorithm Using a Serial Cine Scanning Protocol
Physics in Medicine and Biology
Current 4D-CT methods require external marker data to retrospectively sort image data and generate CT volumes. In this work we develop an automated 4D-CT sorting algorithm that performs without the aid of data collected from an external respiratory surrogate. The sorting algorithm requires an overlapping cine scan protocol. The overlapping protocol provides a spatial link between couch positions. Beginning with a starting scan position, images from the adjacent scan position (which spatial match the starting scan position) are selected by maximizing the normalized cross correlation (NCC) of the images at the overlapping slice position. The process was continued by 'daisy chaining' all couch positions using the selected images until an entire 3D volume was produced. The algorithm produced 16 phase volumes to complete a 4D-CT dataset. Additional 4D-CT datasets were also produced using external marker amplitude and phase angle sorting methods. The image quality of the volumes produced by the different methods was quantified by calculating the mean difference of the sorted overlapping slices from adjacent couch positions. The NCC sorted images showed a significant decrease in the mean difference (p < 0.01) for the five patients.