Post-reconstruction attenuation correction for SPECT myocardium perfusion imaging facilitated by deep learning-based attenuation map generation

J Nucl Cardiol. 2021 Oct 20. doi: 10.1007/s12350-021-02817-1. Online ahead of print.


Background: Attenuation correction can improve the quantitative accuracy of single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) images. Existing SPECT-only systems normally can only provide non-attenuation corrected (NC) images which are susceptible to attenuation artifacts. In this work, we developed a post-reconstruction attenuation correction (PRAC) approach facilitated by a deep learning-based attenuation map for myocardial perfusion SPECT imaging.

Methods: In the PRAC method, new projection data were estimated via forwardly projecting the scanner-generated NC image. Then an attenuation map, generated from NC image using a pretrained deep learning (DL) convolutional neural network, was incorporated into an offline reconstruction algorithm to obtain the attenuation-corrected images from the forwardly projected projections. We evaluated the PRAC method using 30 subjects with a DL network trained with 40 subjects, using the vendor-generated AC images and CT-based attenuation maps as the ground truth.

Results: The PRAC methods using DL-generated and CT-based attenuation maps were both highly consistent with the scanner-generated AC image. The globally normalized mean absolute errors were 1.1% ± .6% and .7% ± .4% and the localized absolute percentage errors were 8.9% ± 13.4% and 7.8% ± 11.4% in the left ventricular (LV) blood pool, respectively, and - 1.3% ± 8.0% and - 3.8% ± 4.5% in the LV myocardium for PRAC methods using DL-generated and CT-based attenuation maps, respectively. The summed stress scores after PRAC using both attenuation maps were more consistent with the ground truth than those of the NC images.

Conclusion: We developed a PRAC approach facilitated by deep learning-based attenuation maps for SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging. It may be feasible for this approach to provide AC images for SPECT-only scanner data.

Keywords: Post-reconstruction attenuation correction; SPECT; myocardial perfusion imaging.