Qualitative and Quantitative Evaluation of Blob-Based Time-of-Flight PET Image Reconstruction in Hybrid Brain PET-MR ImagingReport as inadecuate

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Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 704–713

First Online: 30 January 2015


PurposeMany neurological diseases affect small structures in the brain and, as such, reliable visual evaluation and accurate quantification are required. Recent technological developments made the clinical use of hybrid positron emission tomography-magnetic resonance PET-MR systems possible, providing both functional and anatomical information in a single imaging session. Nevertheless, there is a trade-off between spatial resolution and image quality contrast and noise, which is dictated mainly by the chosen acquisition and reconstruction protocols. Image reconstruction algorithms using spherical symmetric basis functions blobs for image representation have a number of additional parameters that impact both the qualitative and quantitative image characteristics. Hence, a detailed investigation of the blob-based reconstruction characteristics using different parameters is needed to achieve optimal reconstruction results.

ProceduresThis work evaluated the impact of a range of blob parameters on image quality and quantitative accuracy of brain PET images acquired on the Ingenuity Time-of-Flight TOF PET-MR system. Two different phantoms were used to simulate brain imaging applications. Image contrast and noise characteristics were assessed using an image quality phantom. Quantitative performance in a clinical setting was investigated using the Hoffman 3D brain phantom at various count levels. Furthermore, the visual quality of four clinical studies was scored blindly by two experienced physicians to qualitatively evaluate the influence of different reconstruction protocols, hereby providing indications on parameters producing the best image quality.

ResultsQuantitative evaluation using the image quality phantom showed that larger basis function radii result in lower contrast recovery ∼2 % and lower variance levels ∼15 %. The brain phantom and clinical studies confirmed these observations since lower contrast was seen between anatomical structures. High and low count statistics gave comparable values. The qualitative evaluation of the clinical studies, based on the assessment performed by the physicians, showed a preference towards lower image variance levels with a slightly lower contrast, favoring higher radii and four iterations.

ConclusionThis study systematically evaluated a number of basis function parameters and their quantitative and qualitative effect within PET image reconstruction in the context of brain imaging. A range of blob parameters can minimize error and provided optimal image quality, where the anatomical structures could be recognized but the exact delineation of these structures is simplified in scans with lower image variance levels and thus, higher radii should be preferred. With the optimization of blob parameters, the reconstructed images were found to be qualitatively improved optimum parameters {d = 2.0375, alpha = 10.4101, radius = 3.9451} as assessed by the physicians compared to the current clinical protocol. However, this qualitative improvement is task specific, depending on the desired image characteristics to be extracted. Finally, this work could be used as a guide for application-specific optimal parameter selection.

Key wordsPET-MRI Image reconstruction Blobs Visual quality Contrast Noise Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1007-s11307-015-0824-x contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Eva L. Leemans - Fotis Kotasidis - Michael Wissmeyer - Valentina Garibotto - Habib Zaidi

Source: https://link.springer.com/

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