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J Nucl Med. 2011 Dec;52(12):1891-7. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.111.093583. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Effect of patient arm motion in whole-body PET/CT.

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Division of Nuclear Medicine, Russell H Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


Arm motion during whole-body PET/CT acquisition is not uncommon and can give rise to striking cold artifacts on PET images. We investigated the mechanisms that underlie these artifacts and proposed a potential solution.


A phantom experiment based on 5 clinical cases of suspected arm motion was designed. The experiment involved a central 20-cm-diameter (68)Ge/(68)Ga cylinder simulating the neck and 2 peripheral 10-cm-diameter (18)F cylinders simulating arms. After motion-free CT and PET on a whole-body PET/CT system, the position of the arms was altered so as to introduce different amounts of misalignment. Twenty sequential PET scans were acquired in this position, alternating between 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) acquisition, as the (18)F decayed. Decay of (18)F in the arms, while the activity in the (68)Ge/(68)Ga cylinder remained approximately constant, allowed the relative impact of scatter and attenuation-correction errors to be determined.


Image artifacts were largely confined to the local region of motion in 2D but extended throughout the affected slices in 3D, where they manifested as a striking underestimation of radiotracer concentration that became more significant with increasing misalignment. For 3D, scatter-correction error depended on activity in the arms, but for typical activity concentrations scatter-correction error was more significant than attenuation-correction error. 3D image reconstruction without scatter correction substantially eliminated these artifacts in both phantom and patient images.


Reconstruction artifacts due to patient arm motion can be substantial and should be recognized because they can affect both qualitative and quantitative assessment of PET.

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