Image quality assessment of automatic three-segment MR attenuation correction vs. CT attenuation correction

Sasan Partovi, Andres Kohan, Chiara Gaeta, Christian Rubbert, Jose L Vercher-Conejero, Robert S Jones, James K O'Donnell, Patrick Wojtylak, Peter Faulhaber
American Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2013, 3 (3): 291-9
The purpose of this study is to systematically evaluate the usefulness of Positron emission tomography/Magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) images in a clinical setting by assessing the image quality of Positron emission tomography (PET) images using a three-segment MR attenuation correction (MRAC) versus the standard CT attenuation correction (CTAC). We prospectively studied 48 patients who had their clinically scheduled FDG-PET/CT followed by an FDG-PET/MRI. Three nuclear radiologists evaluated the image quality of CTAC vs. MRAC using a Likert scale (five-point scale). A two-sided, paired t-test was performed for comparison purposes. The image quality was further assessed by categorizing it as acceptable (equal to 4 and 5 on the five-point Likert scale) or unacceptable (equal to 1, 2, and 3 on the five-point Likert scale) quality using the McNemar test. When assessing the image quality using the Likert scale, one reader observed a significant difference between CTAC and MRAC (p=0.0015), whereas the other readers did not observe a difference (p=0.8924 and p=0.1880, respectively). When performing the grouping analysis, no significant difference was found between CTAC vs. MRAC for any of the readers (p=0.6137 for reader 1, p=1 for reader 2, and p=0.8137 for reader 3). All three readers more often reported artifacts on the MRAC images than on the CTAC images. There was no clinically significant difference in quality between PET images generated on a PET/MRI system and those from a Positron emission tomography/Computed tomography (PET/CT) system. PET images using the automatic three-segmented MR attenuation method provided diagnostic image quality. However, future research regarding the image quality obtained using different MR attenuation based methods is warranted before PET/MRI can be used clinically.

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