Optimized contrast-enhanced CT protocols for diagnostic whole-body 18F-FDG PET/CT: technical aspects of single-phase versus multiphase CT imaging

Klaus Brechtel, Magnus Klein, Monika Vogel, Marc Mueller, Philip Aschoff, Thomas Beyer, Susanna M Eschmann, Roland Bares, Claus D Claussen, Anna C Pfannenberg
Journal of Nuclear Medicine 2006, 47 (3): 470-6

UNLABELLED: The purpose of this study was to compare various PET/CT examination protocols that use contrast-enhanced single-phase or contrast-enhanced multiphase CT scans under different breathing conditions.

METHODS: Sixty patients with different malignant tumors were randomized into 4 different PET/CT protocols. Single-phase protocols included an intravenous contrast-enhanced (Ultravist 370; iodine at 370 mg/mL) single-phase whole-body CT scan (90 mL at 1.8 mL/min; delay, 90 s) during shallow breathing (protocol A) or during normal expiration (NormExp; protocol B). Multiphase protocols included 2 separate CT scans in the arterial contrast enhancement phase (90 mL at 2.5-2.8 mL/min; bolus tracking; scan range, base of the skull to the kidneys) and the portal-venous contrast enhancement phase (delay, 90 s; scan range, base of the lungs to the proximal thighs) during shallow breathing (protocol C) or during NormExp (protocol D) followed by a low-dose CT scan during shallow breathing for attenuation correction and whole-body PET. Feasibility was assessed by comparing the misalignment of the upper abdominal organs quantitatively by means of the craniocaudal, lateral, and anterior-posterior differences on coregistered PET/CT images. For image quality, the occurrence of CT artifacts and mismatching of rigid body points were evaluated qualitatively.

RESULTS: Misalignment was significantly lower for protocol B in almost all organs and represented the best coregistration quality. Surprisingly, protocol A showed significantly better alignment than the multiphase CT scans during NormExp. Misalignment values between the multiphase protocols were not significantly different, with a trend toward lower values for protocol D. The best CT image quality, with a significantly lower occurrence of artifacts, was found for protocols B and D (NormExp). The levels of mismatching of rigid body points because of patient movement in between the transmission and emission scans were similar for all protocols.

CONCLUSION: Multiphase CT protocols presented a technical disadvantage represented by suboptimal image coregistration compared with single-phase protocols. Nevertheless, multiphase protocols are technically feasible and should be considered for patients who will benefit from a contrast-enhanced multiphase CT examination for diagnosis.

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