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Construction of Realistic Liver Phantoms From Patient Images and a Commercial 3D Printer

S Leng

S Leng*, T Vrieze , J Kuhlmann , L Yu , J Matsumoto , J Morris , C McCollough , Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN


WE-D-18A-5 Wednesday 11:00AM - 12:15PM Room: 18A

To assess image quality and radiation dose reduction in abdominal CT imaging, physical phantoms having realistic background textures and lesions are highly desirable. The purpose of this work was to construct a liver phantom with realistic background and lesions using patient CT images and a 3D printer.

Patient CT images containing liver lesions were segmented into liver tissue, contrast-enhanced vessels, and liver lesions using commercial software (Mimics, Materialise, Belgium). Stereolithography (STL) files of each segmented object were created and imported to a 3D printer (Object350 Connex, Stratasys, MN). After test scans were performed to map the eight available printing materials into CT numbers, printing materials were assigned to each object and a physical liver phantom printed. The printed phantom was scanned on a clinical CT scanner and resulting images were compared with the original patient CT images.

The eight available materials used to print the liver phantom had CT number ranging from 62 to 117 HU. In scans of the liver phantom, the liver lesions and veins represented in the STL files were all visible. Although the absolute value of the CT number in the background liver material (approx. 85 HU) was higher than in patients (approx. 40 HU), the difference in CT numbers between lesions and background were representative of the low contrast values needed for optimization tasks. Future work will investigate materials with contrast sufficient to emulate contrast-enhanced arteries.

Realistic liver phantoms can be constructed from patient CT images using a commercial 3D printer. This technique may provide phantoms able to determine the effect of radiation dose reduction and noise reduction techniques on the ability to detect subtle liver lesions in the context of realistic background textures.

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