Ultra-low dose CT attenuation correction for PET/CT: analysis of sparse view data acquisition and reconstruction algorithms.

 

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Ultra-low dose CT attenuation correction for PET/CT: analysis of sparse view data acquisition and reconstruction algorithms.

Phys Med Biol. 2015 Sep 9;60(19):7437-7460

Authors: Rui X, Cheng L, Long Y, Fu L, Alessio AM, Asma E, Kinahan PE, De Man B

Abstract
For PET/CT systems, PET image reconstruction requires corresponding CT images for anatomical localization and attenuation correction. In the case of PET respiratory gating, multiple gated CT scans can offer phase-matched attenuation and motion correction, at the expense of increased radiation dose. We aim to minimize the dose of the CT scan, while preserving adequate image quality for the purpose of PET attenuation correction by introducing sparse view CT data acquisition.We investigated sparse view CT acquisition protocols resulting in ultra-low dose CT scans designed for PET attenuation correction. We analyzed the tradeoffs between the number of views and the integrated tube current per view for a given dose using CT and PET simulations of a 3D NCAT phantom with lesions inserted into liver and lung. We simulated seven CT acquisition protocols with {984, 328, 123, 41, 24, 12, 8} views per rotation at a gantry speed of 0.35 s. One standard dose and four ultra-low dose levels, namely, 0.35 mAs, 0.175 mAs, 0.0875 mAs, and 0.043 75 mAs, were investigated. Both the analytical Feldkamp, Davis and Kress (FDK) algorithm and the Model Based Iterative Reconstruction (MBIR) algorithm were used for CT image reconstruction. We also evaluated the impact of sinogram interpolation to estimate the missing projection measurements due to sparse view data acquisition. For MBIR, we used a penalized weighted least squares (PWLS) cost function with an approximate total-variation (TV) regularizing penalty function. We compared a tube pulsing mode and a continuous exposure mode for sparse view data acquisition. Global PET ensemble root-mean-squares-error (RMSE) and local ensemble lesion activity error were used as quantitative evaluation metrics for PET image quality.With sparse view sampling, it is possible to greatly reduce the CT scan dose when it is primarily used for PET attenuation correction with little or no measureable effect on the PET image. For the four ultra-low dose levels simulated, sparse view protocols with 41 and 24 views best balanced the tradeoff between electronic noise and aliasing artifacts. In terms of lesion activity error and ensemble RMSE of the PET images, these two protocols, when combined with MBIR, are able to provide results that are comparable to the baseline full dose CT scan. View interpolation significantly improves the performance of FDK reconstruction but was not necessary for MBIR. With the more technically feasible continuous exposure data acquisition, the CT images show an increase in azimuthal blur compared to tube pulsing. However, this blurring generally does not have a measureable impact on PET reconstructed images.Our simulations demonstrated that ultra-low-dose CT-based attenuation correction can be achieved at dose levels on the order of 0.044 mAs with little impact on PET image quality. Highly sparse 41- or 24- view ultra-low dose CT scans are feasible for PET attenuation correction, providing the best tradeoff between electronic noise and view aliasing artifacts. The continuous exposure acquisition mode could potentially be implemented in current commercially available scanners, thus enabling sparse view data acquisition without requiring x-ray tubes capable of operating in a pulsing mode.

PMID: 26352168 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26352168?dopt=Abstract

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