Purpose: The Monte Carlo method is an accurate model for time-resolved quantitative fluorescence tomography. However, this method suffers from low computational efficiency due to the large number of photons required for reliable statistics. This paper presents a comparison study on the computational efficiency of three Monte Carlo-based methods for time-domain fluorescence molecular tomography.
Methods: The methods investigated to generate time-gated Jacobians were the perturbation Monte Carlo (pMC) method, the adjoint Monte Carlo (aMC) method and the mid-way Monte Carlo (mMC) method. The effects of the different parameters that affect the computation time and statistics reliability were evaluated. Also, the methods were applied to a set of experimental data for tomographic application.
Results: In silico results establish that, the investigated parameters affect the computational time for the three methods differently (linearly, quadratically, or not significantly). Moreover, the noise level of the Jacobian varies when these parameters change. The experimental results in preclinical settings demonstrates the feasibility of using both aMC and pMC methods for time-resolved whole body studies in small animals within a few hours.
Conclusions: Among the three Monte Carlo methods, the mMC method is a computationally prohibitive technique that is not well suited for time-domain fluorescence tomography applications. The pMC method is advantageous over the aMC method when the early gates are employed and large number of detectors is present. Alternatively, the aMC method is the method of choice when a small number of source-detector pairs are used.