Spatial auto-regressive analysis of correlation in 3-D PET with application to model-based simulation of data

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Huang, Jian
Mou, Tian
O'Regan, Kevin
O'Sullivan, Finbarr
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Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
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When a scanner is installed and begins to be used operationally, its actual performance may deviate somewhat from the predictions made at the design stage. Thus it is recommended that routine quality assurance (QA) measurements be used to provide an operational understanding of scanning properties. While QA data are primarily used to evaluate sensitivity and bias patterns, there is a possibility to also make use of such data sets for a more refined understanding of the 3-D scanning properties. Building on some recent work on analysis of the distributional characteristics of iteratively reconstructed PET data, we construct an auto-regression model for analysis of the 3-D spatial auto-covariance structure of iteratively reconstructed data, after normalization. Appropriate likelihood-based statistical techniques for estimation of the auto-regression model coefficients are described. The fitted model leads to a simple process for approximate simulation of scanner performance-one that is readily implemented in an R script. The analysis provides a practical mechanism for evaluating the operational error characteristics of iteratively reconstructed PET images. Simulation studies are used for validation. The approach is illustrated on QA data from an operational clinical scanner and numerical phantom data. We also demonstrate the potential for use of these techniques, as a form of model-based bootstrapping, to provide assessments of measurement uncertainties in variables derived from clinical FDG-PET scans. This is illustrated using data from a clinical scan in a lung cancer patient, after a 3-minute acquisition has been re-binned into three consecutive 1-minute time-frames. An uncertainty measure for the tumor SUVmax value is obtained. The methodology is seen to be practical and could be a useful support for quantitative decision making based on PET data.
Quality assurance , Simulation , Spatial autocorrelation , PET , Iterative EM reconstruction , Gamma distribution , Conditional likelihood , Model-based bootstrap , Standard errors
Huang, J., Mou, T., O’Regan, K. and O’Sullivan, F. (2019) 'Spatial auto-regressive analysis of correlation in 3-D PET with application to model-based simulation of data', IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, 39(4), pp. 964-974. doi: 10.1109/TMI.2019.2938411
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