Comparing lesion detection efficacy and image quality across different PET system generations to optimize the iodine-124 PET protocol for recurrent thyroid cancer

Background: In recurrent differentiated thyroid cancer patients, detectability in 124 I PET is limited for lesions with low radioiodine uptake. We assess the improvements in lesion detectability and image quality between three generations of PET scanners with different detector technologies. The results are used to suggest an optimized protocol.

Methods: Datasets of 10 patients with low increasing thyroglobulin or thyroglobulin antibody levels after total thyroidectomy and radioiodine therapies were included. PET data were acquired and reconstructed on a Biograph mCT PET/CT (whole-body, 4-min acquisition time per bed position; OSEM, OSEM-TOF, OSEM-TOF+PSF), a non-TOF Biograph mMR PET/MR (neck region, 4 min and 20 min; OSEM), and a new generation Biograph Vision PET/CT (whole-body, 4 min; OSEM, OSEM-TOF, OSEM-TOF+PSF). The 20-min image on the mMR was used as reference to calculate the detection efficacy in the neck region. Image quality was rated on a 5-point scale.

Results: All detected lesions were in the neck region. Detection efficacy was 8/9 (Vision OSEM-TOF and OSEM-TOF+PSF), 4/9 (Vision OSEM), 3/9 (mMR OSEM and mCT OSEM-TOF+PSF), and 2/9 (mCT OSEM and OSEM-TOF). Median image quality was 4 (Vision OSEM-TOF and OSEM-TOF+PSF), 3 (Vision OSEM, mCT OSEM-TOF+PSF, and mMR OSEM 20-min), 2 (mCT OSEM-TOF), 1.5 (mCT OSEM), and 1 (mMR OSEM 4 min).

Conclusion: At a clinical standard acquisition time of 4 min per bed position, the new generation Biograph Vision using a TOF-based image reconstruction demonstrated the highest detectability and image quality and should, if available, be preferably used for imaging of low-uptake lesions. A prolonged acquisition time for the mostly affected neck region can be useful.


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