Noise and signal properties in PSF-based fully 3D PET image reconstruction: an experimental evaluation

Phys Med Biol. 2010 Mar 7;55(5):1453-73. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/55/5/013. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


The addition of accurate system modeling in PET image reconstruction results in images with distinct noise texture and characteristics. In particular, the incorporation of point spread functions (PSF) into the system model has been shown to visually reduce image noise, but the noise properties have not been thoroughly studied. This work offers a systematic evaluation of noise and signal properties in different combinations of reconstruction methods and parameters. We evaluate two fully 3D PET reconstruction algorithms: (1) OSEM with exact scanner line of response modeled (OSEM+LOR), (2) OSEM with line of response and a measured point spread function incorporated (OSEM+LOR+PSF), in combination with the effects of four post-reconstruction filtering parameters and 1-10 iterations, representing a range of clinically acceptable settings. We used a modified NEMA image quality (IQ) phantom, which was filled with 68Ge and consisted of six hot spheres of different sizes with a target/background ratio of 4:1. The phantom was scanned 50 times in 3D mode on a clinical system to provide independent noise realizations. Data were reconstructed with OSEM+LOR and OSEM+LOR+PSF using different reconstruction parameters, and our implementations of the algorithms match the vendor's product algorithms. With access to multiple realizations, background noise characteristics were quantified with four metrics. Image roughness and the standard deviation image measured the pixel-to-pixel variation; background variability and ensemble noise quantified the region-to-region variation. Image roughness is the image noise perceived when viewing an individual image. At matched iterations, the addition of PSF leads to images with less noise defined as image roughness (reduced by 35% for unfiltered data) and as the standard deviation image, while it has no effect on background variability or ensemble noise. In terms of signal to noise performance, PSF-based reconstruction has a 7% improvement in contrast recovery at matched ensemble noise levels and 20% improvement of quantitation SNR in unfiltered data. In addition, the relations between different metrics are studied. A linear correlation is observed between background variability and ensemble noise for all different combinations of reconstruction methods and parameters, suggesting that background variability is a reasonable surrogate for ensemble noise when multiple realizations of scans are not available.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Time Factors