Evaluation of the combined effects of target size, respiratory motion and background activity on 3D and 4D PET/CT images

Phys Med Biol. 2008 Jul 7;53(13):3661-79. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/53/13/018. Epub 2008 Jun 19.


Gated (4D) PET/CT has the potential to greatly improve the accuracy of radiotherapy at treatment sites where internal organ motion is significant. However, the best methodology for applying 4D-PET/CT to target definition is not currently well established. With the goal of better understanding how to best apply 4D information to radiotherapy, initial studies were performed to investigate the effect of target size, respiratory motion and target-to-background activity concentration ratio (TBR) on 3D (ungated) and 4D PET images. Using a PET/CT scanner with 4D or gating capability, a full 3D-PET scan corrected with a 3D attenuation map from 3D-CT scan and a respiratory gated (4D) PET scan corrected with corresponding attenuation maps from 4D-CT were performed by imaging spherical targets (0.5-26.5 mL) filled with (18)F-FDG in a dynamic thorax phantom and NEMA IEC body phantom at different TBRs (infinite, 8 and 4). To simulate respiratory motion, the phantoms were driven sinusoidally in the superior-inferior direction with amplitudes of 0, 1 and 2 cm and a period of 4.5 s. Recovery coefficients were determined on PET images. In addition, gating methods using different numbers of gating bins (1-20 bins) were evaluated with image noise and temporal resolution. For evaluation, volume recovery coefficient, signal-to-noise ratio and contrast-to-noise ratio were calculated as a function of the number of gating bins. Moreover, the optimum thresholds which give accurate moving target volumes were obtained for 3D and 4D images. The partial volume effect and signal loss in the 3D-PET images due to the limited PET resolution and the respiratory motion, respectively were measured. The results show that signal loss depends on both the amplitude and pattern of respiratory motion. However, the 4D-PET successfully recovers most of the loss induced by the respiratory motion. The 5-bin gating method gives the best temporal resolution with acceptable image noise. The results based on the 4D scan protocols can be used to improve the accuracy of determining the gross tumor volume for tumors in the lung and abdomen.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Lung* / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung* / physiology
  • Motion*
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Respiratory Mechanics / radiation effects*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*