An SPM8-based approach for attenuation correction combining segmentation and nonrigid template formation: application to simultaneous PET/MR brain imaging

David Izquierdo-Garcia, Adam E Hansen, Stefan Förster, Didier Benoit, Sylvia Schachoff, Sebastian Fürst, Kevin T Chen, Daniel B Chonde, Ciprian Catana
Journal of Nuclear Medicine: Official Publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine 2014, 55 (11): 1825-30

UNLABELLED: We present an approach for head MR-based attenuation correction (AC) based on the Statistical Parametric Mapping 8 (SPM8) software, which combines segmentation- and atlas-based features to provide a robust technique to generate attenuation maps (μ maps) from MR data in integrated PET/MR scanners.

METHODS: Coregistered anatomic MR and CT images of 15 glioblastoma subjects were used to generate the templates. The MR images from these subjects were first segmented into 6 tissue classes (gray matter, white matter, cerebrospinal fluid, bone, soft tissue, and air), which were then nonrigidly coregistered using a diffeomorphic approach. A similar procedure was used to coregister the anatomic MR data for a new subject to the template. Finally, the CT-like images obtained by applying the inverse transformations were converted to linear attenuation coefficients to be used for AC of PET data. The method was validated on 16 new subjects with brain tumors (n = 12) or mild cognitive impairment (n = 4) who underwent CT and PET/MR scans. The μ maps and corresponding reconstructed PET images were compared with those obtained using the gold standard CT-based approach and the Dixon-based method available on the Biograph mMR scanner. Relative change (RC) images were generated in each case, and voxel- and region-of-interest-based analyses were performed.

RESULTS: The leave-one-out cross-validation analysis of the data from the 15 atlas-generation subjects showed small errors in brain linear attenuation coefficients (RC, 1.38% ± 4.52%) compared with the gold standard. Similar results (RC, 1.86% ± 4.06%) were obtained from the analysis of the atlas-validation datasets. The voxel- and region-of-interest-based analysis of the corresponding reconstructed PET images revealed quantification errors of 3.87% ± 5.0% and 2.74% ± 2.28%, respectively. The Dixon-based method performed substantially worse (the mean RC values were 13.0% ± 10.25% and 9.38% ± 4.97%, respectively). Areas closer to the skull showed the largest improvement.

CONCLUSION: We have presented an SPM8-based approach for deriving the head μ map from MR data to be used for PET AC in integrated PET/MR scanners. Its implementation is straightforward and requires only the morphologic data acquired with a single MR sequence. The method is accurate and robust, combining the strengths of both segmentation- and atlas-based approaches while minimizing their drawbacks.

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