Filtering in SPECT Image Reconstruction

Int J Biomed Imaging. 2011;2011:693795. doi: 10.1155/2011/693795. Epub 2011 Jun 23.


Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging is widely implemented in nuclear medicine as its clinical role in the diagnosis and management of several diseases is, many times, very helpful (e.g., myocardium perfusion imaging). The quality of SPECT images are degraded by several factors such as noise because of the limited number of counts, attenuation, or scatter of photons. Image filtering is necessary to compensate these effects and, therefore, to improve image quality. The goal of filtering in tomographic images is to suppress statistical noise and simultaneously to preserve spatial resolution and contrast. The aim of this work is to describe the most widely used filters in SPECT applications and how these affect the image quality. The choice of the filter type, the cut-off frequency and the order is a major problem in clinical routine. In many clinical cases, information for specific parameters is not provided, and findings cannot be extrapolated to other similar SPECT imaging applications. A literature review for the determination of the mostly used filters in cardiac, brain, bone, liver, kidneys, and thyroid applications is also presented. As resulting from the overview, no filter is perfect, and the selection of the proper filters, most of the times, is done empirically. The standardization of image-processing results may limit the filter types for each SPECT examination to certain few filters and some of their parameters. Standardization, also, helps in reducing image processing time, as the filters and their parameters must be standardised before being put to clinical use. Commercial reconstruction software selections lead to comparable results interdepartmentally. The manufacturers normally supply default filters/parameters, but these may not be relevant in various clinical situations. After proper standardisation, it is possible to use many suitable filters or one optimal filter.