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Simulating effects of brain atrophy in longitudinal PET imaging with an anthropomorphic brain phantom

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In longitudinal positron emission tomography (PET), the presence of volumetric changes over time can lead to an overestimation or underestimation of the true changes in the quantified PET signal due to the partial volume effect (PVE) introduced by the limited spatial resolution of existing PET cameras and reconstruction algorithms. Here, a 3D-printed anthropomorphic brain phantom with attachable striata in three sizes was designed to enable controlled volumetric changes. Using a method to eliminate the non-radioactive plastic wall, and manipulating BP levels by adding different number of events from list-mode acquisitions, we investigated the artificial volume dependence of BP due to PVE, and potential bias arising from varying BP. Comparing multiple reconstruction algorithms we found that a high-resolution ordered-subsets maximization algorithm with spatially variant point-spread function resolution modeling provided the most accurate data. For striatum, the BP changed by 0.08% for every 1% volume change, but for smaller volumes such as the posterior caudate the artificial change in BP was as high as 0.7% per 1% volume change. A simple gross correction for striatal volume is unsatisfactory, as the amplitude of the PVE on the BP differs depending on where in the striatum the change occurred. Therefore, to correctly interpret age-related longitudinal changes in the BP, we must account for volumetric changes also within a structure, rather than across the whole volume. The present 3D-printing technology, combined with the wall removal method, can be implemented to gain knowledge about the predictable bias introduced by the PVE differences in uptake regions of varying shape.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Volume62
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)5213-5227
Number of pages15
ISSN0031-9155
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 50588169