Purpose: Studies have shown that Monte Carlo-based reconstruction could effectively improve the image quality of positron emission tomography. The authors have previously used a Gaussian rotator-based algorithm to efficiently reduce the computational cost for system matrix (SM) calculation and to meet the large memory requirements for SM storage. However, pronounced ringing artifacts were observed in the reconstructed image. In this article, the authors investigated and characterized these artifacts.
Methods: The authors proposed an "ideal" rotator and used it as a baseline in the artifacts evaluation. This ideal rotator produces perfectly rotated images. The Gaussian rotator method was evaluated by a full system model and a partial system model without positron range and acolinearity, which could be compensated for by the blurring of the Gaussian rotator for 18F studies. Noiseless data, Monte Carlo simulation data, as well as acquired experimental data were used to quantitatively characterize the behavior of the artifacts.
Results: The study of the noiseless data indicated that the artifacts were mainly attributed to the rotator, which further blurred the simulated system responses. The simulation study suggested that the artifacts become less pronounced and not quantitatively significant in practice. This result is consistent with the experimental data study. Better contrast recovery was achieved with an over-compensated system model. Traditionally, an undercompensated system model was preferred to avoid artifacts. The authors' studies suggest that the Gaussian rotator with the full system model yields the best image quality among the evaluated methods with considerably reduced quantitative error and quantitatively insignificant artifacts in practice.
Conclusions: The authors' investigation indicated that a moderately overcompensated system model (about 2 mm FWHM in this study) yielded better contrast recovery and quantitatively insignificant artifacts in practice.