Degradation Adaption Local-to-Global Transformer for Low-Dose CT Image Denoising.

Journal of digital imaging(2023)

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Computer tomography (CT) has played an essential role in the field of medical diagnosis. Considering the potential risk of exposing patients to X-ray radiations, low-dose CT (LDCT) images have been widely applied in the medical imaging field. Since reducing the radiation dose may result in increased noise and artifacts, methods that can eliminate the noise and artifacts in the LDCT image have drawn increasing attentions and produced impressive results over the past decades. However, recent proposed methods mostly suffer from noise remaining, over-smoothing structures, or false lesions derived from noise. To tackle these issues, we propose a novel degradation adaption local-to-global transformer (DALG-Transformer) for restoring the LDCT image. Specifically, the DALG-Transformer is built on self-attention modules which excel at modeling long-range information between image patch sequences. Meanwhile, an unsupervised degradation representation learning scheme is first developed in medical image processing to learn abstract degradation representations of the LDCT images, which can distinguish various degradations in the representation space rather than the pixel space. Then, we introduce a degradation-aware modulated convolution and gated mechanism into the building modules (i.e., multi-head attention and feed-forward network) of each Transformer block, which can bring in the complementary strength of convolution operation to emphasize on the spatially local context. The experimental results show that the DALG-Transformer can provide superior performance in noise removal, structure preservation, and false lesions elimination compared with five existing representative deep networks. The proposed networks may be readily applied to other image processing tasks including image reconstruction, image deblurring, and image super-resolution.
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