Qualitative FDG PET Image Assessment Using Automated Three-Segment MR Attenuation Correction Versus CT Attenuation Correction in a Tertiary Pediatric Hospital: A Prospective Study

Karen Lyons, Victor Seghers, Jennifer L Williams, James I L Sorensen, Michael J Paldino, Rajesh Krishnamurthy, Eric M Rohren
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 2015, 205 (3): 652-8

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to systematically evaluate the diagnostic quality of (18)F-FDG PET images generated using MR attenuation correction (MRAC) compared with those images generated using CT attenuation correction (CTAC) in a pediatric population.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Forty-two patients (mean age, 12.8 years; percentage who were male, 57%) who were referred for 62 indicated whole-body PET/CT studies were prospectively recruited to undergo PET/MRI examinations during the same clinic visit in which PET/CT was performed. MRAC was performed using an automatic three-segment model. Three nuclear radiologists scored the diagnostic quality of the PET images generated by MRAC and CTAC using a Likert scale (range of scores, 1-5). Images graded with a score of 1-3 were considered clinically unacceptable, whereas images with a score of 4-5 were considered clinically acceptable. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to compare differences in the grading of PET/MRI and PET/CT images. The Fisher exact test was used to evaluate potential differences in clinically acceptable image quality and the presence of artifact. Fleiss kappa statistics were used to examine interobserver agreement.

RESULTS: There was no statistically significant difference in the proportion of PET images generated with MRAC and CTAC for which image quality was considered clinically acceptable. A total of 3.9% of PET assessments generated with MRAC were of unacceptable image quality, compared with 2.2% of PET images generated with CTAC. Two of the three radiologists who reviewed the PET images reported the presence of artifacts more often on MRAC-derived images, and they graded the mean quality of these images 0.48 and 0.29 points lower on the 5-point Likert scale than they graded the mean quality of CTAC-derived images (p < 0.0001). Interobserver agreement was fair (κ = 0.39).

CONCLUSION: The diagnostic quality of PET images obtained from a pediatric population with the use of an automatic three-segmentation MRAC method was comparable to that of PET images obtained with the use of CTAC.

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