Super-Resolution for Fast Multi-Contrast Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Abstract: There are many clinical situations where magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is preferable over other imaging modalities, while the major disadvantage is the relatively long scan time. Due to limited resources, this means that not all patients can be offered an MRI scan, even though it could provide crucial information. It can even be deemed unsafe for a critically ill patient to undergo the examination. In MRI, there is a trade-off between resolution, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and the time spent gathering data. When time is of utmost importance, we seek other methods to increase the resolution while preserving SNR and imaging time. In this work, I have studied one of the most promising methods for this task. Namely, constructing super-resolution algorithms to learn the mapping from a low resolution image to a high resolution image using convolutional neural networks. More specifically, I constructed networks capable of transferring high frequency (HF) content, responsible for details in an image, from one kind of image to another. In this context, contrast or weight is used to describe what kind of image we look at. This work only explores the possibility of transferring HF content from T1-weighted images, which can be obtained quite quickly, to T2-weighted images, which would take much longer for similar quality. By doing so, the hope is to contribute to increased efficacy of MRI, and reduce the problems associated with the long scan times. At first, a relatively simple network was implemented to show that transferring HF content between contrasts is possible, as a proof of concept. Next, a much more complex network was proposed, to successfully increase the resolution of MR images better than the commonly used bicubic interpolation method. This is a conclusion drawn from a test where 12 participants were asked to rate the two methods (p=0.0016) Both visual comparisons and quality measures, such as PSNR and SSIM, indicate that the proposed network outperforms a similar network that only utilizes images of one contrast. This suggests that HF content was successfully transferred between images of different contrasts, which improves the reconstruction process. Thus, it could be argued that the proposed multi-contrast model could decrease scan time even further than what its single-contrast counterpart would. Hence, this way of performing multi-contrast super-resolution has the potential to increase the efficacy of MRI.
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