PET/CT image fusion error due to urinary bladder filling changes: consequence and correction

Ann Nucl Med. 2009 Oct;23(8):739-44. doi: 10.1007/s12149-009-0304-y. Epub 2009 Sep 29.


Objective: A considerable change of urinary bladder (UB) shape in PET compared with CT in integrated PET/CT system is frequently noted. This study initially evaluated this finding with and without oral contrast (OC) use. In addition, a one bed pelvic section (PLV) repeat acquisition was investigated as a solution to this problem.

Methods: (18)FDG PET/CTs of 88 patients were analyzed. OC was administered in 68 patients, of whom 31 had PLV images taken 5-10 min later. Three-dimensional mid-UB CT and PET matching measurements were compared. In addition, UB walls displacement between CT and PET were analyzed.

Results: The mean UB height was significantly increased (P < 0.001) in PET when compared with CT, both anteriorly and posteriorly; however, UB width and depth were not significantly different. An upward shift of superior UB wall in PET from equivalent CT images was noted, whereas there was no appreciable displacement of the other UB walls. The percent UB height increase on PET from CT was significantly greater with than without OC use. The UB height difference between PET and CT was markedly reduced on PLV when compared with the original scans.

Conclusions: Caution should be exerted during the interpretation of PET/CT scans of the pelvis as there is significant upward expansion of UB on PET compared with CT that appears to be exaggerated by OC use, likely due to additional fluid load. The PET/CT fusion errors of UB can be substantially resolved through a separate PLV acquisition presumably due to the shorter time interval of UB scan completion between CT and PET.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Artifacts*
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Urinary Bladder / diagnostic imaging
  • Urinary Bladder / pathology*
  • Young Adult


  • Contrast Media