Initial experience with a SiPM-based PET/CT scanner: influence of acquisition time on image quality

EJNMMI Phys. 2018 Apr 18;5(1):9. doi: 10.1186/s40658-018-0207-x.


Background: A newly introduced PET/CT scanner (Discovery Meaningful Insights-DMI, GE Healthcare) includes the silicon photomultiplier (SiPM) with time-of-flight (TOF) technology first used in the GE SIGNA PET/MRI. In this study, we investigated the impact of various acquisition times on image quality using this SiPM-based PET/CT.

Methods: We reviewed data from 58 participants with cancer who were scanned using the DMI PET/CT scanner. The administered dosages ranged 295.3-429.9 MBq (mean ± SD 356.3 ± 37.4) and imaging started at 71-142 min (mean ± SD 101.41 ± 17.52) after administration of the radiopharmaceutical. The patients' BMI ranged 19.79-46.16 (mean ± SD 26.55 ± 5.53). We retrospectively reconstructed the raw TOF data at 30, 60, 90, and 120 s/bed and at the standard image acquisition time per clinical protocol (180 or 210 s/bed depending on BMI). Each reconstruction was reviewed blindly by two nuclear medicine physicians and scored 1-5 (1-poor, 5-excellent quality). The liver signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was used as a quantitative measure of image quality.

Results: The average scores ± SD of the readers were 2.61 ± 0.83, 3.70 ± 0.92, 4.36 ± 0.82, 4.82 ± 0.39, and 4.91 ± 0.91 for the 30, 60, 90, and 120 s/bed and at standard acquisition time, respectively. Inter-reader agreement on image quality assessment was good, with a weighted kappa of 0.80 (95% CI 0.72-0.81). In the evaluation of the effects of time per bed acquisition on semi-quantitative measurements, we found that the only time point significantly different from the standard time were 30 and 60 s (both with P < 0.001). The effects of dose and BMI were not statistically significant (P = 0.195 and 0.098, respectively). There was a significant positive effect of time on SNR (P < 0.001), as well as a significant negative effect of weight (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that despite significant delays from injection to imaging (due to comparison with standard PET/CT) compared to standard clinical operations and even in a population with average BMI > 25, images can be acquired as fast as 90 s/bed using the SiPM PET/CT and still result in very good image quality (average score > 4).

Keywords: Acquisition time; Detectors; PET/CT; Silicon photomultipliers.