Introduction: The aim of this study was to evaluate the behavior of a penalized-likelihood image reconstruction method (Q.Clear) under different count statistics and lesion-to-background ratios (LBR) on a BGO scanner, in order to obtain an optimum penalization factor (ß value) to study and optimize for different acquisition protocols and clinical goals.
Methods: Both phantom and patient images were evaluated. Data from an image quality phantom were acquired using different Lesion-to-Background ratios and acquisition times. Then, each series of the phantom was reconstructed using ß values between 50 and 500, at intervals of 50. Hot and cold contrasts were obtained, as well as background variability and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR). Fifteen 18 F-FDG patients (five brain scans and 10 torso acquisitions) were acquired and reconstructed using the same ß values as in the phantom reconstructions. From each lesion in the torso acquisition, noise, contrast, and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) were computed. Image quality was assessed by two different nuclear medicine physicians. Additionally, the behaviors of 12 different textural indices were studied over 20 different lesions.
Results: Q.Clear quantification and optimization in patient studies depends on the activity concentration as well as on the lesion size. In the studied range, an increase on ß is translated in a decrease in lesion contrast and noise. The net product is an overall increase in the SNR, presenting a tendency to a steady value similar to the CNR in phantom data. As the activity concentration or the sphere size increase the optimal ß increases, similar results are obtained from clinical data. From the subjective quality assessment, the optimal ß value for torso scans is in a range between 300 and 400, and from 100 to 200 for brain scans. For the recommended torso ß values, texture indices present coefficients of variation below 10%.
Conclusions: Our phantom and patients demonstrate that improvement of CNR and SNR of Q.Clear algorithm which depends on the studied conditions and the penalization factor. Using the Q.Clear reconstruction algorithm in a BGO scanner, a ß value of 350 and 200 appears to be the optimal value for 18F-FDG oncology and brain PET/CT, respectively.