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IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2014 Mar;33(3):695-707. doi: 10.1109/TMI.2013.2294627.

Quality and precision of parametric images created from PET sinogram data by direct reconstruction: proof of concept.


We have previously implemented the direct reconstruction of dense kinetic model parameter images ("parametric images") from sinogram data, and compared it to conventional image domain kinetic parameter estimation methods . Although it has been shown that the direct reconstruction algorithm estimates the kinetic model parameters with lower root mean squared error than the conventional image domain techniques, some theoretical obstacles remain. These obstacles include the difficulty of evaluating the accuracy and precision of the estimated parameters. In image domain techniques, the reconstructed time activity curve (TAC) and the model predicted TAC are compared, and the goodness-of-fit is evaluated as a measure of the accuracy and precision of the estimated parameters. This approach cannot be applied to the direct reconstruction technique as there are no reconstructed TACs. In this paper, we propose ways of evaluating the precision and goodness-of-fit of the kinetic model parameters estimated by the direct reconstruction algorithm. Specifically, precision of the estimates requires the calculation of variance images for each parameter, and goodness-of-fit is addressed by reconstructing the difference between the measured and the fitted sinograms. We demonstrate that backprojecting the difference from sinogram space to image space creates error images that can be examined for goodness-of-fit and model selection purposes. The presence of nonrandom structures in the error images may indicate an inadequacy of the kinetic model that has been incorporated into the direct reconstruction algorithm. We introduce three types of goodness-of-fit images. We propose and demonstrate a number-of-runs image as a means of quantifying the adequacy or deficiency of the model. We further propose and demonstrate images of the F statistic and the change in the Akaike Information Criterion as devices for identifying the statistical advantage of one model over another at each voxel. As direct reconstruction to parametric images proliferates, it will be essential for imagers to adopt methods such as those proposed herein to assess the accuracy and precision of their parametric images.

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