Harmonizing FDG PET quantification while maintaining optimal lesion detection: prospective multicentre validation in 517 oncology patients

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2015 Dec;42(13):2072-82. doi: 10.1007/s00259-015-3128-0. Epub 2015 Jul 30.


Purpose: Point-spread function (PSF) or PSF + time-of-flight (TOF) reconstruction may improve lesion detection in oncologic PET, but can alter quantitation resulting in variable standardized uptake values (SUVs) between different PET systems. This study aims to validate a proprietary software tool (EQ.PET) to harmonize SUVs across different PET systems independent of the reconstruction algorithm used.

Methods: NEMA NU2 phantom data were used to calculate the appropriate filter for each PSF or PSF+TOF reconstruction from three different PET systems, in order to obtain EANM compliant recovery coefficients. PET data from 517 oncology patients were reconstructed with a PSF or PSF+TOF reconstruction for optimal tumour detection and an ordered subset expectation maximization (OSEM3D) reconstruction known to fulfil EANM guidelines. Post-reconstruction, the proprietary filter was applied to the PSF or PSF+TOF data (PSFEQ or PSF+TOFEQ). SUVs for PSF or PSF+TOF and PSFEQ or PSF+TOFEQ were compared to SUVs for the OSEM3D reconstruction. The impact of potential confounders on the EQ.PET methodology including lesion and patient characteristics was studied, as was the adherence to imaging guidelines.

Results: For the 1380 tumour lesions studied, Bland-Altman analysis showed a mean ratio between PSF or PSF+TOF and OSEM3D of 1.46 (95%CI: 0.86-2.06) and 1.23 (95%CI: 0.95-1.51) for SUVmax and SUVpeak, respectively. Application of the proprietary filter improved these ratios to 1.02 (95%CI: 0.88-1.16) and 1.04 (95%CI: 0.92-1.17) for SUVmax and SUVpeak, respectively. The influence of the different confounding factors studied (lesion size, location, radial offset and patient's BMI) was less than 5%. Adherence to the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM) guidelines for tumour imaging was good.

Conclusion: These data indicate that it is not necessary to sacrifice the superior lesion detection and image quality achieved by newer reconstruction techniques in the quest for harmonizing quantitative comparability between PET systems.

Keywords: FDG PET/CT; Harmonization; Quantification; Standardized uptake value; Tumour imaging.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Middle Aged
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / standards
  • Radiopharmaceuticals


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18