Transforming UTE-mDixon MR Abdomen-Pelvis Images into CT by Jointly Leveraging Prior Knowledge and Partial Supervision

Pengjiang Qian, Jiamin Zheng, Qiankun Zheng, Yuan Liu, Tingyu Wang, Rose Al Helo, Atallah Baydoun, Norbert Avril, Rodney J. Ellis, Harry Friel, Melanie S. Traughber, Ajit Devaraj, Bryan Traughber, Raymond F. Muzic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Computed tomography (CT) provides information for diagnosis, PET attenuation correction (AC), and radiation treatment planning (RTP). Disadvantages of CT include poor soft tissue contrast and exposure to ionizing radiation. While MRI can overcome these disadvantages, it lacks the photon absorption information needed for PET AC and RTP. Thus, an intelligent transformation from MR to CT, i.e., the MR-based synthetic CT generation, is of great interest as it would support PET/MR AC and MR-only RTP. Using an MR pulse sequence that combines ultra-short echo time (UTE) and modified Dixon (mDixon), we propose a novel method for synthetic CT generation jointly leveraging prior knowledge as well as partial supervision (SCT-PK-PS for short) on large-field-of-view images that span abdomen and pelvis. Two key machine learning techniques, i.e., the knowledge-leveraged transfer fuzzy c-means (KL-TFCM) and the Laplacian support vector machine (LapSVM), are used in SCT-PK-PS. The significance of our effort is threefold: 1) Using the prior knowledge-referenced KL-TFCM clustering, SCT-PK-PS is able to group the feature data of MR images into five initial clusters of fat, soft tissue, air, bone, and bone marrow. Via these initial partitions, clusters needing to be refined are observed and for each of them a few additionally labeled examples are given as the partial supervision for the subsequent semi-supervised classification using LapSVM; 2) Partial supervision is usually insufficient for conventional algorithms to learn the insightful classifier. Instead, exploiting not only the given supervision but also the manifold structure embedded primarily in numerous unlabeled data, LapSVM is capable of training multiple desired tissue-recognizers; 3) Benefiting from the joint use of KL-TFCM and LapSVM, and assisted by the edge detector filter based feature extraction, the proposed SCT-PK-PS method features good recognition accuracy of tissue types, which ultimately facilitates the good transformation from MR images to CT images of the abdomen-pelvis. Applying the method on twenty subjects' feature data of UTE-mDixon MR images, the average score of the mean absolute prediction deviation (MAPD) of all subjects is 140.72 ± 30.60 HU which is statistically significantly better than the 241.36 ± 21.79 HU obtained using the all-water method, the 262.77 ± 42.22 HU obtained using the four-cluster-partitioning (FCP, i.e., external-air, internal-air, fat, and soft tissue) method, and the 197.05 ± 76.53 HU obtained via the conventional SVM method. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of our method for the intelligent transformation from MR to CT on the body section of abdomen-pelvis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9034480
Pages (from-to)70-82
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Applied Mathematics


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