Design of respiration averaged CT for attenuation correction of the PET data from PET/CT

Pai-Chun Melinda Chi, Osama Mawlawi, Sadek A Nehmeh, Yusuf E Erdi, Peter A Balter, Dershan Luo, Radhe Mohan, Tinsu Pan
Medical Physics 2007, 34 (6): 2039-47
Our previous patient studies have shown that the use of respiration averaged computed tomography (ACT) for attenuation correction of the positron emission tomography (PET) data from PET/CT reduces the potential misalignment in the thorax region by matching the temporal resolution of the CT to that of the PET. In the present work, we investigated other approaches of acquiring ACT in order to reduce the CT dose and to improve the ease of clinical implementation. Four-dimensional CT (4DCT) data sets for ten patients (17 lung/esophageal tumors) were acquired in the thoracic region immediately after the routine PET/CT scan. For each patient, multiple sets of ACTs were generated based on both phase image averaging (phase approach) and fixed cine duration image averaging (cine approach). In the phase approach, the ACTs were calculated from CT images corresponding to the significant phases of the respiratory cycle: ACT(050phs) from end-inspiration (0%) and end-expiration (50%), ACT(2070phs) from mid-inspiration (20%) and mid-expiration (70%), ACT(4phs) from 0%, 20%, 50% and 70%, and ACT(10phs) from all ten phases, which was the original approach. In the cine approach, which does not require 4DCT, the ACTs were calculated based on the cine images from cine durations of 1 to 6 s at 1 s increments. PET emission data for each patient were attenuation corrected with each of the above mentioned ACTs and the tumor maximum standard uptake value (SUVmax), average SUV (SUVavg), and tumor volume measurements were compared. Percent differences were calculated between PET data corrected with various ACTs and that corrected with ACT(10phs). In the phase approach, the ACT(10phs) can be approximated by the ACT(4phs) to within a mean percent difference of 2% in SUV and tumor volume measurements. In cine approach, ACT(10phs) can be approximated to within a mean percent difference of 3% by ACTs computed from cine durations > or =3 s. Acquiring CT images only at the four significant phases for the ACT can reduce radiation dose to 1/3 of the current 4DCT dose; however, the implementation of this approach requires additional hardware that is not standard equipment on PET/CT scanners. In the cine approach, we recommend a duration of 6 +/- 1 s in order to include variations of respiratory patterns in a larger population. This approach can be easily implemented because cine acquisition mode is available on all GE PET/CT scanners. The CT dose in the cine approach can be reduced to approximately 5 mGy by using the lowest mA setting (10 mA), while still maintaining good quality CT data for PET attenuation correction. In our scanning protocol, the ACT is only acquired if respiration-induced misregistration is observed (determined before the PET scan is completed), and therefore patients do not receive unnecessary CT radiation dose.

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