An evaluation of iterative reconstruction strategies based on mediastinal lesion detection using hybrid Ga-67 SPECT images
Using psychophysical studies, the authors have evaluated the effectiveness of various strategies for compensating for physical degradations in SPECT imaging. The particular application was Ga-67-citrate imaging of mediastinal tumors, which was chosen because Ga-67 is a particularly challenging radionuclide for imaging. The test strategies included compensations for nonuniform attenuation, distance-dependent spatial resolution, and scatter applied in various combinations as part of iterative reconstructions with the rescaled block iterative-expectation maximization (RBI-EM) algorithm. The authors also evaluated filtered backprojection reconstructions. Strategies were compared on the basis of human-observer studies of lesion localization and detection accuracy using the localization receiver operating characteristics (LROC) paradigm. These studies involved hybrid images which were obtained by adding the projections of Monte Carlo-simulated lesions to disease-free clinical projection data. The background variability in these images can provide a more realistic assessment of the relative utility of reconstruction strategies than images from anthropomorphic digital phantoms. The clinical datasets were obtained using a GE-VG dual-detector SPECT system with CT-estimated attenuation maps. After determining a target lesion contrast, they conducted pilot LROC studies to obtain a near-optimal set of reconstruction parameters for each strategy, and then conducted the strategy comparison study. The results indicate improved detection accuracy with RBI-EM as more compensations are applied within the reconstruction. The relative rankings of the test strategies agreed in most cases with those of previous studies that employed simulated projections of digital anthropomorphic phantoms, thus confirming the findings of those studies.
In SPECT imaging, photon transport effects such as scatter, attenuation and septal penetration can negatively affect the quality of the reconstructed image and the accuracy of quantitation estimation. As such, it is useful to model these effects as carefully as possible during the image reconstruction process. Many of these effects can be included in Monte Carlo (MC) based image reconstruction using convolution-based forced detection (CFD). With CFD Monte Carlo (CFD-MC), often only the geometric response of the collimator is modeled, thereby making the assumption that the collimator materials are thick enough to completely absorb photons. However, in order to retain high collimator sensitivity and high spatial resolution, it is required that the septa be as thin as possible, thus resulting in a significant amount of septal penetration for high energy radionuclides. A method for modeling the effects of both collimator septal penetration and geometric response using ray tracing (RT) techniques has been performed and included into a CFD-MC program. Two look-up tables are pre-calculated based on the specific collimator parameters and radionuclides, and subsequently incorporated into the SIMIND MC program. One table consists of the cumulative septal thickness between any point on the collimator and the center location of the collimator. The other table presents the resultant collimator response for a point source at different distances from the collimator and for various energies. A series of RT simulations have been compared to experimental data for different radionuclides and collimators. Results of the RT technique matches experimental data of collimator response very well, producing correlation coefficients higher than 0.995. Reasonable values of the parameters in the lookup table and computation speed are discussed in order to achieve high accuracy while using minimal storage space for the look-up tables. In order to achieve noise-free projection images from MC, it is seen that the inclusion of the RT implementation for septal penetration increases the speed of the simulation by a factor of about 7,500 compared to the conventional SIMIND MC program.