Matched attenuation maps are vital for obtaining accurate and reproducible kinetic and static parameter estimates from PET data. With increased interest in PET/CT imaging of diffuse lung diseases for assessing disease progression and treatment effectiveness, understanding the extent of the effect of respiratory motion and establishing methods for correction are becoming more important. In a previous study, we have shown that using the wrong attenuation map leads to large errors due to density mismatches in the lung, especially in dynamic PET scans. Here, we extend this work to the case where the study is sub-divided into several scans, e.g. for patient comfort, each with its own CT (cine-CT and ‘snap shot’ CT). A method to combine multi-CT information into a combined-CT has then been developed, which averages the CT information from each study section to produce composite CT images with the lung density more representative of that in the PET data. This combined-CT was applied to nine patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, imaged with dynamic 18F-FDG PET/CT to determine the improvement in the precision of the parameter estimates.
Using XCAT simulations, errors in the influx rate constant were found to be as high as 60% in multi-PET/CT studies. Analysis of patient data identified displacements between study sections in the time activity curves, which led to an average standard error in the estimates of the influx rate constant of 53% with conventional methods. This reduced to within 5% after use of combined-CTs for attenuation correction of the study sections.
Use of combined-CTs to reconstruct the sections of a multi-PET/CT study, as opposed to using the individually acquired CTs at each study stage, produces more precise parameter estimates and may improve discrimination between diseased and normal lung.