PET image reconstruction using multi-parametric anato-functional priors

Abolfazl Mehranian*, Martin A Belzunce, Flavia Niccolini, Marios Politis, Claudia Prieto, Federico Turkheimer, Alexander Hammers, Andrew J Reader

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
249 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we investigate the application of multi-parametric anato-functional (MR-PET) priors for the maximum a posteriori (MAP) reconstruction of brain PET data in order to address the limitations of the conventional anatomical priors in the presence of PET-MR mismatches. In addition to partial volume correction benefits, the suitability of these priors for reconstruction of low-count PET data is also introduced and demonstrated, comparing to standard maximum-likelihood (ML) reconstruction of high-count data. The conventional local Tikhonov and total variation (TV) priors and current state-of-the-art anatomical priors including the Kaipio, non-local Tikhonov prior with Bowsher and Gaussian similarity kernels are investigated and presented in a unified framework. The Gaussian kernels are calculated using both voxel- and patch-based feature vectors. To cope with PET and MR mismatches, the Bowsher and Gaussian priors are extended to multi-parametric priors. In addition, we propose a modified joint Burg entropy prior that by definition exploits all parametric information in the MAP reconstruction of PET data. The performance of the priors was extensively evaluated using 3D simulations and two clinical brain datasets of [18F]florbetaben and [18F]FDG radiotracers. For simulations, several anato-functional mismatches were intentionally introduced between the PET and MR images, and furthermore, for the FDG clinical dataset, two PET-unique active tumours were embedded in the PET data. Our simulation results showed that the joint Burg entropy prior far outperformed the conventional anatomical priors in terms of preserving PET unique lesions, while still reconstructing functional boundaries with corresponding MR boundaries. In addition, the multi-parametric extension of the Gaussian and Bowsher priors led to enhanced preservation of edge and PET unique features and also an improved bias-variance performance. In agreement with the simulation results, the clinical results also showed that the Gaussian prior with voxel-based feature vectors, the Bowsher and the joint Burg entropy priors were the best performing priors. However, for the FDG dataset with simulated tumours, the TV and proposed priors were capable of preserving the PET-unique tumours. Finally, an important outcome was the demonstration that the MAP reconstruction of a low-count FDG PET dataset using the proposed joint entropy prior can lead to comparable image quality to a conventional ML reconstruction with up to 5 times more counts. In conclusion, multi-parametric anato-functional priors provide a solution to address the pitfalls of the conventional priors and are therefore likely to increase the diagnostic confidence in MR-guided PET image reconstructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5975–6007
Number of pages33
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number15
Early online date6 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2017


  • anatomical priors
  • image reconstruction
  • regularization


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