An important step in PET brain kinetic analysis is the registration of functional data to an anatomical MR image. Typically, PET-MR registrations in nonhuman primate neuroreceptor studies used PET images acquired early post-injection, (e.g., 0-10 min) to closely resemble the subject's MR image. However, a substantial fraction of these registrations (~25%) fail due to the differences in kinetics and distribution for various radiotracer studies and conditions (e.g., blocking studies). The Multi-Transform Method (MTM) was developed to improve the success of registrations between PET and MR images. Two algorithms were evaluated, MTM-I and MTM-II. The approach involves creating multiple transformations by registering PET images of different time intervals, from a dynamic study, to a single reference (i.e., MR image) (MTM-I) or to multiple reference images (i.e., MR and PET images pre-registered to the MR) (MTM-II). Normalized mutual information was used to compute similarity between the transformed PET images and the reference image(s) to choose the optimal transformation. This final transformation is used to map the dynamic dataset into the animal's anatomical MR space, required for kinetic analysis. The chosen transforms from MTM-I and MTM-II were evaluated using visual rating scores to assess the quality of spatial alignment between the resliced PET and reference images. One hundred twenty PET datasets involving eleven different tracers from 3 different scanners were used to evaluate the MTM algorithms. Studies were performed with baboons and rhesus monkeys on the HR+, HRRT, and Focus-220. Successful transformations increased from 77.5%, 85.8%, to 96.7% using the 0-10 min method, MTM-I, and MTM-II, respectively, based on visual rating scores. The Multi-Transform Methods proved to be a robust technique for PET-MR registrations for a wide range of PET studies.
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