Simultaneous maximum a posteriori longitudinal PET image reconstruction

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Positron emission tomography (PET) is frequently used to monitor functional changes that occur over extended time scales, for example in longitudinal oncology PET protocols that include routine clinical follow-up scans to assess the efficacy of a course of treatment. In these contexts PET datasets are currently reconstructed into images using single-dataset reconstruction methods. Inspired by recently proposed joint PET-MR reconstruction methods, we propose to reconstruct longitudinal datasets simultaneously by using a joint penalty term in order to exploit the high degree of similarity between longitudinal images. We achieved this by penalising voxel-wise differences between pairs of longitudinal PET images in a one-step-late maximum \textit{a posteriori} (MAP) fashion, resulting in the MAP simultaneous longitudinal reconstruction (SLR) method. The proposed method reduced reconstruction errors and visually improved images relative to standard maximum likelihood expectation-maximisation (ML-EM) in simulated 2-D longitudinal brain tumour scans. In reconstructions of split real 3-D data with inserted simulated tumours, noise across images reconstructed with MAP-SLR was reduced to levels equivalent to doubling the number of detected counts when using ML-EM. Furthermore, quantification of tumour activities was largely preserved over a variety of longitudinal tumour changes, including changes in size and activity, with larger changes inducing larger biases relative to standard ML-EM reconstructions. Similar improvements were observed for a range of counts levels, demonstrating the robustness of the method when used with a single penalty strength. The results suggest that longitudinal regularisation is a simple but effective method of improving reconstructed PET images without using resolution degrading priors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6963-6979
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2017


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