Deep learning for x-ray scatter correction in dedicated breast CT

Medical Physics

Pautasso, J. J., Caballo, M., Mikerov, M., Boone, J. M., Michielsen, K., Sechopoulos, I.


Accurate correction of x-ray scatter in dedicated breast computed tomography (bCT) imaging may result in improved visual interpretation and is crucial to achieve quantitative accuracy during image reconstruction and analysis.


To develop a deep learning (DL) model to correct for x-ray scatter in bCT projection images.


A total of 115 patient scans acquired with a bCT clinical system were segmented into the major breast tissue types (skin, adipose, and fibroglandular tissue). The resulting breast phantoms were divided into training (n = 110) and internal validation cohort (n = 5). Training phantoms were augmented by a factor of four by random translation of the breast in the image field of view. Using a previously validated Monte Carlo (MC) simulation algorithm, 12 primary and scatter bCT projection images with a 30-degree step were generated from each phantom. For each projection, the thickness map and breast location in the field of view were also calculated. A U-Net based DL model was developed to estimate the scatter signal based on the total input simulated image and trained single-projection-wise, with the thickness map and breast location provided as additional inputs. The model was internally validated using MC-simulated projections and tested using an external data set of 10 phantoms derived from images acquired with a different bCT system. For this purpose, the mean relative difference (MRD) and mean absolute error (MAE) were calculated. To test for accuracy in reconstructed images, a full bCT acquisition was mimicked with MC-simulations and then assessed by calculating the MAE and the structural similarity (SSIM). Subsequently, scatter was estimated and subtracted from the bCT scans of three patients to obtain the scatter-corrected image. The scatter-corrected projections were reconstructed and compared with the uncorrected reconstructions by evaluating the correction of the cupping artifact, increase in image contrast, and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR).


The mean MRD and MAE across all cases (min, max) for the internal validation set were 0.04% (−1.1%, 1.3%) and 2.94% (2.7%, 3.2%), while for the external test set they were −0.64% (−1.6%, 0.2%) and 2.84% (2.3%, 3.5%), respectively. For MC-simulated reconstruction slices, the computed SSIM was 0.99 and the MAE was 0.11% (range: 0%, 0.35%) with a single outlier slice of 2.06%. For the three patient bCT reconstructed images, the correction increased the contrast by a mean of 25% (range: 20%, 30%), and reduced the cupping artifact. The mean CNR increased by 0.32 after scatter correction, which was not found to be significant (95% confidence interval: [−0.01, 0.65], p = 0.059). The time required to correct the scatter in a single bCT projection was 0.2 s on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU.


The developed DL model could accurately estimate scatter in bCT projection images and could enhance contrast and correct for cupping artifact in reconstructed patient images without significantly affecting the CNR. The time required for correction would allow its use in daily clinical practice, and the reported accuracy will potentially allow quantitative reconstructions.

Tomographic Imaging

Overige afdelingen Imaging