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  • Algorithms Accelerate CAT Scans
May 2005
URBANA, Ill., May 19 -- Researchers at InstaRecon said computed tomography (CT) scanning systems will get a big boost in accuracy and speed thanks to mathematical methods it developed that can provide nearly instantaneous, real-time reconstruction of complex, 3-D images.
Newer computer tomography (CT) scanners, sometimes known as CAT scanners, scan patients from head to toe in 10 seconds, collecting data for 4000 image slices. But reconstruction of those images still takes several minutes.
According to Yoram Bresler, president of InstaRecon, the company's goal has been to speed up the image reconstruction so it happens at the same time data is collected.
InstaRecon is based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Bresler and colleagues discovered the fast image reconstruction algorithms. Its technology has six US patents.

Real-time image reconstruction is vital in such medical procedures as fluoroscopy, in which doctors push a catheter through the heart.

"Doctors need to be able to see the catheter as it's moving," Bresler said. "Doctors cannot tolerate a delay in image reconstruction, or they will not know exactly where the catheter is at any given moment. Currently, they are only able to get low-resolution images in real time. With our method, we can speed up image reconstruction by a factor of 10 to 100, so it should be possible to have full 3-D resolution in real-time."

Not only would the image reconstruction be done faster, but, perhaps even more significant, patients may receive less exposure to x-rays in the long run. Radiation dose can be reduced if the machines are able to reconstruct the data many times over, correcting the result each time. With the speed boost from the InstaRecon algorithms, CT scanning systems will be able to compute images many times over, at blazing speeds, reducing the required radiation dose.
InstaRecon said faster data reconstruction could also help security agents scan more containers and packages at airports and ports of entry, for example. Most containers and packages imported into the US are not scanned, because of time limitations.

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