I’ve posted quite a bit about the problem of excessive exposure to radiation from medical imaging, especially CT scans. A lot can be done to reduce exposure including reducing the number of unneeded tests (which should be done regardless of radiation concerns) and using better imaging protocols. These approaches can yield solid, even dramatic reductions in radiation.
But I’m especially intrigued by the findings of UCSD researchers, which demonstrate the ability to reduce radiation from cone beam CT (used in image-guided radiation therapy) by an order of magnitude or more. From Fierce HealthCare (Video Game Processors Help Lower CT Scan Radiation):
Based on recent advances in the field of compressed sensing, Jia and his colleagues developed an innovative CT reconstruction algorithm for graphic processing unit (GPU) platforms. The GPU processes data in parallel — increasing computational efficiency and making it possible to reconstruct a cone beam CT scan in about two minutes. (Modern GPU cards were originally designed to power 3D computer graphics, especially for video games.)
With only 20 to 40 total number of X-ray projections and 0.1 mAs per projection, the team achieved images clear enough for image-guided radiation therapy. The reconstruction time ranged from 77 to 130 seconds on an NVIDIA Tesla C1060 GPU card, depending on the number of projections — an estimated 100 times faster than similar iterative reconstruction approaches, says Jia.
This is impressive and makes me wonder whether similar results could be obtained with other scans if developers put their mind to reducing the use of radiation.July 15, 2010