A novel method for pulmonary emboli visualization from high-resolution CT images
Novak, Carol L.
Kiraly, Atilla P.
Naidich, David P.
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Pulmonary Embolism (PE) is one of the most common causes of unexpected death in the US. The recent introduction of 16-slice Computed Tomography (CT) machines allows the acquisition of very high-resolution datasets. This has made CT a more attractive means for diagnosing PE, especially for previously difficult to identify small subsegmental peripheral emboli. However, the large size of these datasets makes it desirable to have an automated method to help radiologists focus directly on potential candidates that might otherwise be overlooked. We propose a novel method to highlight potential PEs on a 3D representation of the pulmonary arterial tree. First lung vessels are segmented using mathematical morphology techniques. The density values inside the vessels are then used to color the outside of a Shaded Surface Display (SSD) of the vessel tree. As PEs are clots of significantly lower Hounsfield Unit (HU) values than surrounding contrast-enhanced blood, they appear as salient contrasted patches in this 3D rendering. During preliminary testing on 6 datasets 19 PEs out of 22 were detected (sensitivity 86%) with 2 false positives for every true positive (Positive Predictive Value 33%).