Brain perfusion imaging : performance and accuracy
Brain perfusion weighted images acquired using dynamic contrast studies have an important clinical role in acute stroke diagnosis and treatment decisions. The purpose of my PhD research is to develop novel methodologies for improving the efficiency and quality of brain perfusion-imaging analysis so that clinical decisions can be made more accurately and in a shorter time. This thesis consists of three parts: My research investigates the possibility that parallel computing brings to make perfusion-imaging analysis faster in order to deliver results that are used in stroke diagnosis earlier. Brain perfusion analysis using local Arterial Input Functions (AIF) techniques takes a long time to execute due to its heavy computational load. As time is vitally important in the case of acute stroke, reducing analysis time and therefore diagnosis time can reduce the number of brain cells damaged and improve the chances for patient recovery. We present the implementation of a deconvolution algorithm for brain perfusion quantification on GPGPU (General Purpose computing on Graphics Processing Units) using the CUDA programming model. Our method aims to accelerate the process without any quality loss. Specific features of perfusion source images are also used to reduce noise impact, which consequently improves the accuracy of hemodynamic maps. The majority of existing approaches for denoising CT images are optimized for 3D (spatial) information, including spatial decimation (spatially weighted mean filters) and techniques based on wavelet and curvelet transforms. However, perfusion imaging data is 4D as it also contains temporal information. Our approach using Gaussian process regression (GPR) makes use of the temporal information in the perfusion source imges to reduce the noise level. Over the entire image, our noise reduction method based on Gaussian process regression gains a 99% contrast-to-noise ratio improvement over the raw image and also improves the quality of hemodynamic maps, allowing a better identification of edges and detailed information. At the level of individual voxels, GPR provides a stable baseline, helps identify key parameters from tissue time-concentration curves and reduces the oscillations in the curves. Furthermore, the results show that GPR is superior to the alternative techniques compared in this study. My research also explores automatic segmentation of perfusion images into potentially healthy areas and lesion areas, which can be used as additional information that assists in clinical diagnosis. Since perfusion source images contain more information than hemodynamic maps, good utilisation of source images leads to better understanding than the hemodynamic maps alone. Correlation coefficient tests are used to measure the similarities between the expected tissue time-concentration curves (from reference tissue) and the measured time-concentration curves (from target tissue). This information is then used to distinguish tissues at risk and dead tissues from healthy tissues. A correlation coefficient based signal analysis method that directly spots suspected lesion areas from perfusion source images is presented. Our method delivers a clear automatic segmentation of healthy tissue, tissue at risk and dead tissue. From our segmentation maps, it is easier to identify lesion boundaries than using traditional hemodynamic maps.