Impact of non-uniform attenuation correction in a dynamic [18F]-FDOPA brain PET/MRI study

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Background: PET (positron emission tomography) biokinetic modelling relies on accurate quantitative data. One of the main corrections required in PET imaging to obtain high quantitative accuracy is tissue attenuation correction (AC). Incorrect non-uniform PET-AC may result in local bias in the emission images, and thus in relative activity distributions and time activity curves for different regions. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)-based AC is an active area of research in PET/MRI neuroimaging, where several groups developed in the last few years different methods to calculate accurate attenuation (μ-)maps. Some AC methods have been evaluated for different PET radioisotopes and pathologies. However, AC in PET/MRI has scantly been investigated in dynamic PET studies where the aim is to get quantitative kinetic parameters, rather than semi-quantitative parameters from static PET studies. In this work, we investigated the impact of AC accuracy in PET image absolute quantification and, more importantly, in the slope of the Patlak analysis based on the simplified reference tissue model, from a dynamic [18F]-fluorodopa (FDOPA) PET/MRI study. In the study, we considered the two AC methods provided by the vendor and an in-house AC method based on the dual ultrashort time echo MRI sequence, using as reference a multi-atlas-based AC method based on a T1-weighted MRI sequence. Results: Non-uniform bias in absolute PET quantification across the brain, from − 20% near the skull to − 10% in the central region, was observed using the two vendor’s μ-maps. The AC method developed in-house showed a − 5% and 1% bias, respectively. Our study resulted in a 5–9% overestimation of the PET kinetic parameters with the vendor-provided μ-maps, while our in-house-developed AC method showed < 2% overestimation compared to the atlas-based AC method, using the cerebellar cortex as reference region. The overestimation obtained using the occipital pole as reference region resulted in a 7–10% with the vendor-provided μ-maps, while our in-house-developed AC method showed < 6% overestimation. Conclusions: PET kinetic analyses based on a reference region are especially sensitive to the non-uniform bias in PET quantification from AC inaccuracies in brain PET/MRI. Depending on the position of the reference region and the bias with respect to the analysed region, kinetic analyses suffer different levels of bias. Considering bone in the μ-map can potentially result in larger errors, compared to the absence of bone, when non-uniformities in PET quantification are introduced.




Cabello, J., Avram, M., Brandl, F., Mustafa, M., Scherr, M., Leucht, C., … Ziegler, S. I. (2019). Impact of non-uniform attenuation correction in a dynamic [18F]-FDOPA brain PET/MRI study. EJNMMI Research, 9(1).

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