PURPOSE: To compare noise, contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and image quality using deep-learning image reconstruction (DLIR) vs. adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction (ASIR-V) in 0.625 and 2.5 mm slice thickness gray scale 74 keV virtual monoenergetic (VM) abdominal dual-energy CT (DECT).
METHODS: This retrospective study was approved by the institutional review board and regional ethics committee. We analysed 30 portal-venous phase abdominal fast kV-switching DECT (80/140kVp) scans. Data were reconstructed to ASIR-V 60% and DLIR-High at 74 keV in 0.625 and 2.5 mm slice thickness. Quantitative HU and noise assessment were measured within liver, aorta, adipose tissue and muscle. Two board-certified radiologists evaluated image noise, sharpness, texture and overall quality based on a five-point Likert scale.
RESULTS: DLIR significantly reduced image noise and increased CNR as well as SNR compared to ASIR-V, when slice thickness was maintained (p < 0.001). Slightly higher noise of 5.5-16.2% was measured (p < 0.01) in liver, aorta and muscle tissue at 0.625 mm DLIR compared to 2.5 mm ASIR-V, while noise in adipose tissue was 4.3% lower with 0.625 mm DLIR compared to 2.5 mm ASIR-V (p = 0.08). Qualitative assessments demonstrated significantly improved image quality for DLIR particularly in 0.625 mm images.
CONCLUSIONS: DLIR significantly reduced image noise, increased CNR and SNR and improved image quality in 0.625 mm slice images, when compared to ASIR-V. DLIR may facilitate thinner image slice reconstructions for routine contrast-enhanced abdominal DECT.