Detection of sub-centimeter lesions using digital TOF-PET/CT system combined with Bayesian penalized likelihood reconstruction algorithm

Abstract

Objective

Many advances in PET/CT technology can potentially improve image quality and the ability to detect small lesions. A new digital TOF-PET/CT scanner based on silicon photomultipliers (SiPM) integrated with a Bayesian penalized likelihood (BPL) PET reconstruction algorithm (Q.Clear; GE Healthcare) has been introduced into clinical practice. The present study aimed to quantify the ability of a digital TOF-PET/CT scanner combined with BPL reconstruction to detect small lesions, and to determine the optimal penalization factor (β) in BPL to accurately detect such lesions.

Methods

All PET data were acquired from a NEMA body phantom using a Discovery MI (DMI) PET/CT system (GE Healthcare). The phantom included six spheres with diameters of 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 13 mm, and contained a background activity level of 5.3 kBq/mL, with target-to-background ratios (TBR) of 4:1 and 8:1. Images were reconstructed using a baseline OSEM algorithm, with OSEM + PSF, OSEM + TOF, OSEM + PSF + TOF, and BPL + PSF + TOF (β: 50–400). The matrix size was 192 × 192 and 384 × 384. Data acquired in 100-min list mode were re-binned into acquisition times ranging from 2 to 100 min. The quantitative accuracy and detectability of small hot spheres were evaluated by physical assessment of a recovery coefficient (RC) and a detectability index (DI), as well as visual assessment of PET images at each acquisition time.

Results

The RC and DI of sub-centimeter spheres were improved, because the digital TOF-PET/CT scanner has a larger TOF performance gain due to better timing resolution. The RC and DI were higher with BPL in sub-centimeter spheres, than with other OSEM-based types of reconstruction. The BPL for an 8-mm sphere overestimated uptake due to edge artifact overshoot induced by PSF modeling. The variability of RC and DI for acquisition times and TBR differed considerably according to β values. The RC for ~ 8-mm spheres were > 1 at β values between 50 and 100, but were close to 1 at β value of 200. The visual scores for β = 200 in BPL were maximal, whereas those for spheres that were ≥ 6 mm exceeded the criterion of 3.

Conclusion

The BPL in the digital TOF-PET/CT scanner improved the quantitation and detectability of sub-centimeter spheres compared with OSEM-based reconstruction. Optimization of the β value in BPL might allow the detection of lesions ≤ 6 mm, although detectability depended on the TBR of lesions. A β value of 200 seemed optimal for detecting sub-centimeter lesions.

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Acknowledgements

For valuable contributions in the data collection and interpretation processes for this publication, we would like to thank Mr. Akira Hirayama and Mr. Hirofumi Kawakami from GE Healthcare and Dr. Hiroyuki Shinohara from Tokyo Metropolitan University. This work was supported in part by KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) (No. 16K19831) and from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Japanese Government, and an Academic Research Grant from International University of Health and Welfare.

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Correspondence to Kenta Miwa.

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Miwa, K., Wagatsuma, K., Nemoto, R. et al. Detection of sub-centimeter lesions using digital TOF-PET/CT system combined with Bayesian penalized likelihood reconstruction algorithm. Ann Nucl Med 34, 762–771 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12149-020-01500-8

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Keywords

  • Q.Clear
  • Detectability
  • Sub-centimeter lesion
  • SiPM
  • BPL
  • TOF