Evaluation of [⁶⁸Ga]Ga-PSMA PET/CT images acquired with a reduced scan time duration in prostate cancer patients using the digital biograph vision

Aim: [ 68 Ga]Ga-PSMA-11 PET/CT allows for a superior detection of prostate cancer tissue, especially in the context of a low tumor burden. Digital PET/CT bears the potential of reducing scan time duration/administered tracer activity due to, for instance, its higher sensitivity and improved time coincidence resolution. It might thereby expand [ 68 Ga]Ga-PSMA-11 PET/CT that is currently limited by 68 Ge/ 68 Ga-generator yield. Our aim was to clinically evaluate the influence of a reduced scan time duration in combination with different image reconstruction algorithms on the diagnostic performance.

Methods: Twenty prostate cancer patients (11 for biochemical recurrence, 5 for initial staging, 4 for metastatic disease) sequentially underwent [ 68 Ga]Ga-PSMA-11 PET/CT on a digital Siemens Biograph Vision. PET data were collected in continuous-bed-motion mode with a mean scan time duration of 16.7 min (reference acquisition protocol) and 4.6 min (reduced acquisition protocol). Four iterative reconstruction algorithms were applied using a time-of-flight (TOF) approach alone or combined with point-spread-function (PSF) correction, each with 2 or 4 iterations. To evaluate the diagnostic performance, the following metrics were chosen: (a) per-region detectability, (b) the tumor maximum and peak standardized uptake values (SUVmax and SUVpeak), and (c) image noise using the liver’s activity distribution.

Results: Overall, 98% of regions (91% of affected regions) were correctly classified in the reduced acquisition protocol independent of the image reconstruction algorithm. Two nodal lesions (each ≤ 4 mm) were not identified (leading to downstaging in 1/20 cases). Mean absolute percentage deviation of SUVmax (SUVpeak) was approximately 9% (6%) for each reconstruction algorithm. The mean image noise increased from 13 to 21% (4 iterations) and from 10 to 15% (2 iterations) for PSF + TOF and TOF images.

Conclusions: High agreement at 3.5-fold reduction of scan time in terms of per-region detection (98% of regions) and image quantification (mean deviation ≤ 10%) was demonstrated; however, small lesions can be missed in about 10% of patients leading to downstaging (T1N0M0 instead of T1N1M0) in 5% of patients. Our results suggest that a reduction of scan time duration or administered [ 68 Ga]Ga-PSMA-11 activities can be considered in metastatic patients, where missing small lesions would not impact patient management. Limitations include the small and heterogeneous sample size and the lack of follow-up.


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