Dynamic contrast-enhanced CT of head and neck tumors: perfusion measurements using a distributed-parameter tracer kinetic model. Initial results and comparison with deconvolution-based analysis

Phys Med Biol. 2007 Oct 21;52(20):6181-96. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/52/20/007. Epub 2007 Oct 1.


The objective of this work was to evaluate the feasibility of a two-compartment distributed-parameter (DP) tracer kinetic model to generate functional images of several physiologic parameters from dynamic contrast-enhanced CT data obtained of patients with extracranial head and neck tumors and to compare the DP functional images to those obtained by deconvolution-based DCE-CT data analysis. We performed post-processing of DCE-CT studies, obtained from 15 patients with benign and malignant head and neck cancer. We introduced a DP model of the impulse residue function for a capillary-tissue exchange unit, which accounts for the processes of convective transport and capillary-tissue exchange. The calculated parametric maps represented blood flow (F), intravascular blood volume (v(1)), extravascular extracellular blood volume (v(2)), vascular transit time (t(1)), permeability-surface area product (PS), transfer ratios k(12) and k(21), and the fraction of extracted tracer (E). Based on the same regions of interest (ROI) analysis, we calculated the tumor blood flow (BF), blood volume (BV) and mean transit time (MTT) by using a modified deconvolution-based analysis taking into account the extravasation of the contrast agent for PS imaging. We compared the corresponding values by using Bland-Altman plot analysis. We outlined 73 ROIs including tumor sites, lymph nodes and normal tissue. The Bland-Altman plot analysis revealed that the two methods showed an accepted degree of agreement for blood flow, and, thus, can be used interchangeably for measuring this parameter. Slightly worse agreement was observed between v(1) in the DP model and BV but even here the two tracer kinetic analyses can be used interchangeably. Under consideration of whether both techniques may be used interchangeably was the case of t(1) and MTT, as well as for measurements of the PS values. The application of the proposed DP model is feasible in the clinical routine and it can be used interchangeably for measuring blood flow and vascular volume with the commercially available reference standard of the deconvolution-based approach. The lack of substantial agreement between the measurements of vascular transit time and permeability-surface area product may be attributed to the different tracer kinetic principles employed by both models and the detailed capillary tissue exchange physiological modeling of the DP technique.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Contrast Media / pharmacokinetics*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Contrast Media