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Simultaneous maximum a posteriori longitudinal PET image reconstruction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6963-6979
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Volume62
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - 7 Aug 2017

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King's Authors

Abstract

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.

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