Statistical image reconstruction for low-dose CT using nonlocal means-based regularization

Hao Zhang, Jianhua Ma, Jing Wang, Yan Liu, Hongbing Lu, Zhengrong Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Low-dose computed tomography (CT) imaging without sacrifice of clinical tasks is desirable due to the growing concerns about excessive radiation exposure to the patients. One common strategy to achieve low-dose CT imaging is to lower the milliampere-second (mAs) setting in data scanning protocol. However, the reconstructed CT images by the conventional filtered back-projection (FBP) method from the low-mAs acquisitions may be severely degraded due to the excessive noise. Statistical image reconstruction (SIR) methods have shown potentials to significantly improve the reconstructed image quality from the low-mAs acquisitions, wherein the regularization plays a critical role and an established family of regularizations is based on the Markov random field (MRF) model. Inspired by the success of nonlocal means (NLM) in image processing applications, in this work, we propose to explore the NLM-based regularization for SIR to reconstruct low-dose CT images from low-mAs acquisitions. Experimental results with both digital and physical phantoms consistently demonstrated that SIR with the NLM-based regularization can achieve more gains than SIR with the well-known Gaussian MRF regularization or the generalized Gaussian MRF regularization and the conventional FBP method, in terms of image noise reduction and resolution preservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-435
Number of pages13
JournalComputerized Medical Imaging and Graphics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Low-dose CT
  • Nonlocal means
  • Regularization
  • Statistical image reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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