Improving detection accuracy of perfusion defect in standard dose SPECT-myocardial perfusion imaging by deep-learning denoising

J Nucl Cardiol. 2021 Jul 19. doi: 10.1007/s12350-021-02676-w. Online ahead of print.


Background: We previously developed a deep-learning (DL) network for image denoising in SPECT-myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI). Here we investigate whether this DL network can be utilized for improving detection of perfusion defects in standard-dose clinical acquisitions.

Methods: To quantify perfusion-defect detection accuracy, we conducted a receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analysis on reconstructed images with and without processing by the DL network using a set of clinical SPECT-MPI data from 190 subjects. For perfusion-defect detection hybrid studies were used as ground truth, which were created from clinically normal studies with simulated realistic lesions inserted. We considered ordered-subset expectation-maximization (OSEM) reconstruction with corrections for attenuation, resolution, and scatter and with 3D Gaussian post-filtering. Total perfusion deficit (TPD) scores, computed by Quantitative Perfusion SPECT (QPS) software, were used to evaluate the reconstructed images.

Results: Compared to reconstruction with optimal Gaussian post-filtering (sigma = 1.2 voxels), further DL denoising increased the area under the ROC curve (AUC) from 0.80 to 0.88 (P-value < 10-4). For reconstruction with less Gaussian post-filtering (sigma = 0.8 voxels), thus better spatial resolution, DL denoising increased the AUC value from 0.78 to 0.86 (P-value < 10-4) and achieved better spatial resolution in reconstruction.

Conclusions: DL denoising can effectively improve the detection of abnormal defects in standard-dose SPECT-MPI images over conventional reconstruction.

Keywords: SPECT-MPI; deep learning; noise-to-noise training; post-reconstruction filtering.