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PET/CT-guided biopsy with respiratory motion correction

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Given the ability of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to localize malignancies in heterogeneous tumors and tumors that lack an X-ray computed tomography (CT) correlate, combined PET/CT-guided biopsy may improve the diagnostic yield of biopsies. However, PET and CT images are naturally susceptible to problems due to respiratory motion, leading to imprecise tumor localization and shape distortion. To facilitate PET/CT-guided needle biopsy, we developed and investigated the feasibility of a workflow that allows to bring PET image guidance into interventional CT suite while accounting for respiratory motion.


The performance of PET/CT respiratory motion correction using registered and summed phases method was evaluated through computer simulations using the mathematical 4D extended cardiac-torso phantom, with motion simulated from real respiratory traces. The performance of PET/CT-guided biopsy procedure was evaluated through operation on a physical anthropomorphic phantom. Vials containing radiolabeled 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose were placed within the physical phantom thorax as biopsy targets. We measured the average distance between target center and the simulated biopsy location among multiple trials to evaluate the biopsy localization accuracy.


The computer simulation results showed that the RASP method generated PET images with a significantly reduced noise of 0.10 ± 0.01 standardized uptake value (SUV) as compared to an end-of-expiration image noise of 0.34 ± 0.04 SUV. The respiratory motion increased the apparent liver lesion size from 5.4 ± 1.1 to 35.3 ± 3.0 cc. The RASP algorithm reduced this to 15.7 ± 3.7 cc. The distances between the centroids for the static image lesion and two moving lesions in the liver and lung, when reconstructed with the RASP algorithm, were 0.83 ± 0.72 mm and 0.42 ± 0.72 mm. For the ungated imaging, these values increased to 3.48 ± 1.45 mm and 2.5 ± 0.12 mm, respectively. For the ungated imaging, this increased to 1.99 ± 1.72 mm. In addition, the lesion activity estimation (e.g., SUV) was accurate and constant for images reconstructed using the RASP algorithm, whereas large activity bias and variations (± 50%) were observed for lesions in the ungated images. The physical phantom studies demonstrated a biopsy needle localization error of 2.9 ± 0.9 mm from CT. Combined with the localization errors due to respiration for the PET images from simulations, the overall estimated lesion localization error would be 3.08 mm for PET-guided biopsies images using RASP and 3.64 mm when using ungated PET images. In other words, RASP reduced the localization error by approximately 0.6 mm. The combined error analysis showed that replacing the standard end-of-expiration images with the proposed RASP method in PET/CT-guided biopsy workflow yields comparable lesion localization accuracy and reduced image noise.


The RASP method can produce PET images with reduced noise, attenuation artifacts and respiratory motion, resulting in more accurate lesion localization. Testing the PET/CT-guided biopsy workflow using computer simulation and physical phantoms with respiratory motion, we demonstrated that guided biopsy procedure with the RASP method can benefit from improved PET image quality due to noise reduction, without compromising the accuracy of lesion localization.

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This work was supported in part by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Grants R42 CA153488, R01 CA160253 and R42 CA167907.

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Correspondence to Paul E. Kinahan.

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Zhang, R., Zukić, D., Byrd, D.W. et al. PET/CT-guided biopsy with respiratory motion correction. Int J CARS 14, 2187–2198 (2019).

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