Vis Comput Ind Biomed Art. 2023 Jan 14;6(1):2. doi: 10.1186/s42492-022-00129-w.
Thermal ablation procedures, such as high intensity focused ultrasound and radiofrequency ablation, are often used to eliminate tumors by minimally invasively heating a focal region. For this task, real-time 3D temperature visualization is key to target the diseased tissues while minimizing damage to the surroundings. Current computed tomography (CT) thermometry is based on energy-integrated CT, tissue-specific experimental data, and linear relationships between attenuation and temperature. In this paper, we develop a novel approach using photon-counting CT for material decomposition and a neural network to predict temperature based on thermal characteristics of base materials and spectral tomographic measurements of a volume of interest. In our feasibility study, distilled water, 50 mmol/L CaCl2, and 600 mmol/L CaCl2 are chosen as the base materials. Their attenuations are measured in four discrete energy bins at various temperatures. The neural network trained on the experimental data achieves a mean absolute error of 3.97 °C and 1.80 °C on 300 mmol/L CaCl2 and a milk-based protein shake respectively. These experimental results indicate that our approach is promising for handling non-linear thermal properties for materials that are similar or dissimilar to our base materials.