Phantom-based acquisition time and image reconstruction parameter optimisation for oncologic FDG PET/CT examinations using a digital system

Background: New-generation silicon-photomultiplier (SiPM)-based PET/CT systems exhibit an improved lesion detectability and image quality due to a higher detector sensitivity. Consequently, the acquisition time can be reduced while maintaining diagnostic quality. The aim of this study was to determine the lowest 18F-FDG PET acquisition time without loss of diagnostic information and to optimise image reconstruction parameters (image reconstruction algorithm, number of iterations, voxel size, Gaussian filter) by phantom imaging. Moreover, patient data are evaluated to confirm the phantom results.

Methods: Three phantoms were used: a soft-tissue tumour phantom, a bone-lung tumour phantom, and a resolution phantom. Phantom conditions (lesion sizes from 6.5 mm to 28.8 mm in diameter, lesion activity concentration of 15 kBq/mL, and signal-to-background ratio of 5:1) were derived from patient data. PET data were acquired on an SiPM-based Biograph Vision PET/CT system for 10 min in list-mode format and resampled into time frames from 30 to 300 s in 30-s increments to simulate different acquisition times. Different image reconstructions with varying iterations, voxel sizes, and Gaussian filters were probed. Contrast-to-noise-ratio (CNR), maximum, and peak signal were evaluated using the 10-min acquisition time image as reference. A threshold CNR value ≥ 5 and a maximum (peak) deviation of ± 20% were considered acceptable. 20 patient data sets were evaluated regarding lesion quantification as well as agreement and correlation between reduced and full acquisition time standard uptake values (assessed by Pearson correlation coefficient, intraclass correlation coefficient, Bland–Altman analyses, and Krippendorff’s alpha).

Results: An acquisition time of 60 s per bed position yielded acceptable detectability and quantification results for clinically relevant phantom lesions ≥ 9.7 mm in diameter using OSEM-TOF or OSEM-TOF+PSF image reconstruction, a 4-mm Gaussian filter, and a 1.65 × 1.65 x 2.00-mm3 or 3.30 × 3.30 x 3.00-mm3 voxel size. Correlation and agreement of patient lesion quantification between full and reduced acquisition times were excellent.

Conclusion: nA threefold reduction in acquisition time is possible. Patients might benefit from more comfortable examinations or reduced radiation exposure, if instead of the acquisition time the applied activity is reduced.


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