Deep learning versus iterative reconstruction on image quality and dose reduction in abdominal CT: A live animal study

Jason Z. Zhang, Halemane Ganesh, Flavius D. Raslau, Rashmi Nair, Edward Escott, Chi Wang, Ge Wang, Jie Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective. While simulated low-dose CT images and phantom studies cannot fully approximate subjective and objective effects of deep learning (DL) denoising on image quality, live animal models may afford this assessment. This study is to investigate the potential of DL in CT dose reduction on image quality compared to iterative reconstruction (IR). Approach. The upper abdomen of a live 4 year old sheep was scanned on a CT scanner at different exposure levels. Images were reconstructed using FBP and ADMIRE with 5 strengths. A modularized DL network with 5 modules was used for image reconstruction via progressive denoising. Radiomic features were extracted from a region over the liver. Concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) was applied to quantify agreement between any two sets of radiomic features. Coefficient of variation was calculated to measure variation in a radiomic feature series. Structural similarity index (SSIM) was used to measure the similarity between any two images. Diagnostic quality, low-contrast detectability, and image texture were qualitatively evaluated by two radiologists. Pearson correlation coefficient was computed across all dose-reconstruction/denoising combinations. Results. A total of 66 image sets, with 405 radiomic features extracted from each, are analyzed. IR and DL can improve diagnostic quality and low-contrast detectability and similarly modulate image texture features. In terms of SSIM, DL has higher potential in preserving image structure. There is strong correlation between SSIM and radiologists' evaluations for diagnostic quality (0.559) and low-contrast detectability (0.635) but moderate correlation for texture (0.313). There is moderate correlation between CCC of radiomic features and radiologists' evaluation for diagnostic quality (0.397), low-contrast detectability (0.417), and texture (0.326), implying that improvement of image features may not relate to improvement of diagnostic quality. Conclusion. DL shows potential to further reduce radiation dose while preserving structural similarity, while IR is favored by radiologists and more predictably alters radiomic features.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145009
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 21 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.


  • CT
  • deep learning denoising
  • image quality
  • iterative reconstruction
  • radiomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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