Improvement in lesion detection with whole-body oncologic time-of-flight PET
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Time-of-flight (TOF) PET has great potential in whole-body oncologic applications, and recent work has demonstrated qualitatively in patient studies the improvement that can be achieved in lesion visibility. The aim of this work was to objectively quantify the improvement in lesion detectability that can be achieved in lung and liver lesions with whole-body 18 F-FDG TOF PET in a cohort of 100 patients as a function of body mass index, lesion location and contrast, and scanning time. Methods: One hundred patients with BMIs ranging from 16 to 45 were included in this study. Artificial 1-cm spheric lesions were imaged separately in air at variable locations of each patient's lung and liver, appropriately attenuated, and incorporated in the patient list-mode data with 4 different lesion-to-background contrast ranges. The fused studies with artificial lesion present or absent were reconstructed using a list-mode unrelaxed ordered-subsets expectation maximization with chronologically ordered subsets and a gaussian TOF kernel for TOF reconstruction. Conditions were compared on the basis of performance of a 3-channel Hotelling observer signal-to-noise ratio in detecting the presence of a sphere of unknown size on an anatomic background while modeling observer noise. Results: TOF PET yielded an improvement in lesion detection performance (3-channel Hotelling observer signal-to-noise ratio) over non-TOF PET of 8.3% in the liver and 15.1% in the lungs. The improvement in all lesions was 20.3%, 12.0%, 9.2%, and 7.5% for mean contrast values of 2.0:1, 3.2:1, 4.4:1, and 5.7:1, respectively. Furthermore, this improvement was 9.8% in patients with a BMI of less than 30 and 11.1% in patients with a BMI of 30 or more. Performance plateaued faster as a function of number of iterations with TOF than non-TOF. Conclusion: Over all contrasts and body mass indexes, oncologic TOF PET yielded a significant improvement in lesion detection that was greater for lower lesion contrasts. This improvement was achieved without compromising other aspects of PET imaging. Copyright © 2011 by the Society of Nuclear Medicine, Inc.
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