Objectives: Positron emission tomography (PET) is susceptible to patient movement during a scan. Head motion is a continuing problem for brain PET imaging and diagnostic assessments. Physical head restraints and external motion tracking systems are most commonly used to address to this issue. Data-driven methods offer substantial advantages, such as retroactive processing but typically require manual interaction for robustness. In this work, we introduce a time-of-flight (TOF) weighted positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) algorithm that facilitates fully automated, data-driven head motion detection and subsequent automated correction of the raw listmode data.
Materials methods: We used our previously published TOF-PEPT algorithm Dustin Osborne et al. (2017), Tasmia Rahman Tumpa et al., Tasmia Rahman Tumpa et al. (2021) to automatically identify frames where the patient was near-motionless. The first such static frame was used as a reference to which subsequent static frames were registered. The underlying rigid transformations were estimated using weak radioactive point sources placed on radiolucent glasses worn by the patient. Correction of raw event data were achieved by tracking the point sources in the listmode data which was then repositioned to allow reconstruction of a single image. To create a "gold standard" for comparison purposes, frame-by-frame image registration based correction was implemented. The original listmode data was used to reconstruct an image for each static frame detected by our algorithm and then applying manual landmark registration and external software to merge these into a single image.
Results: We report on five patient studies. The TOF-PEPT algorithm was configured to detect motion using a 500 ms window. Our event-based correction produced images that were visually free of motion artifacts. Comparison of our algorithm to a frame-based image registration approach produced results that were nearly indistinguishable. Quantitatively, Jaccard similarity indices were found to be in the range of 85-98% for the former and 84-98% for the latter when comparing the static frame images with the reference frame counterparts.
Discussion: We have presented a fully automated data-driven method for motion detection and correction of raw listmode data. Easy to implement, the approach achieved high temporal resolution and reliable performance for head motion correction. Our methodology provides a mechanism by which patient motion incurred during imaging can be assessed and corrected post hoc.