Journal article Open Access
Sitek, A.; Huesman, R. H.; Gullberg, G. T.
Medical images in nuclear medicine are commonly represented in three dimensions as a stack of two-dimensional images that are reconstructed from tomographic projections. Although natural and straightforward, this may not be an optimal visual representation for performing various diagnostic tasks. A method for three-dimensional (3-D) tomographic reconstruction is developed using a point cloud image representation. A point cloud is a set of points (nodes) in space, where each node of the point cloud is characterized by its position and intensity. The density of the nodes determines the local resolution allowing for the modeling of different parts of the image with different resolution. The reconstructed volume, which in general could be of any resolution, size, shape, and topology, is represented by a set of nonoverlapping tetrahedra defined by the nodes. The intensity at any point within the volume is defined by linearly interpolating inside a tetrahedron from the values at the four nodes that define the tetrahedron. This approach creates a continuous piecewise linear intensity over the reconstruction domain. The reconstruction provides a distinct multiresolution representation, which is designed to accurately and efficiently represent the 3-D image. The method is applicable to the acquisition of any tomographic geometry, such as parallel-, fan-, and cone-beam; and the reconstruction procedure can also model the physics of the image detection process. An efficient method for evaluating the system projection matrix is presented. The system matrix is used in an iterative algorithm to reconstruct both the intensity and location of the distribution of points in the point cloud. Examples of the reconstruction of projection data generated by computer simulations and projection data experimentally acquired using a Jaszczak cardiac torso phantom are presented. This work creates a framework for voxel-less multiresolution representation of images in nuclear medicine