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Developing an efficient phase-matched attenuation correction method for quiescent period PET in abdominal PET/MRI


Respiratory motion causes misalignments between positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance (MR)-derived attenuation maps (µ-maps) in addition to artifacts on both PET and MR images in simultaneous PET/MRI for organs such as liver that can experience motion of several centimeters. To address this problem, we developed an efficient MR-based attenuation correction (MRAC) method to generate phase-matched µ-maps for quiescent period PET (PETQ) in abdominal PET/MRI. MRAC data was acquired with CIRcular Cartesian UnderSampling (CIRCUS) sampling during 100 s in free-breathing as an accelerated data acquisition strategy for phase-matched MRAC (MRACPM-CIRCUS). For comparison, MRAC data with raster (Default) k-space sampling was also acquired during 100 s in free-breathing (MRACPM-Default), and used to evaluate MRACPM-CIRCUS as well as un-matched MRAC (MRACUM) that was un-gated. We purposefully oversampled the MRACPM data to ensure we had enough information to capture all respiratory phases to make this comparison as robust as possible. The proposed MRACPM-CIRCUS was evaluated in 17 patients with 68Ga-DOTA-TOC PET/MRI exams, suspected of having neuroendocrine tumors or liver metastases. Effects of CIRCUS sampling for accelerating a data acquisition were evaluated by simulating the data acquisition time retrospectively in increments of 5 s. Effects of MRACPM-CIRCUS on PETQ were evaluated using uptake differences in the liver lesions (n  =  35), compared to PETQ with MRACPM-Default and MRACUM. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test was performed to compare lesion uptakes between the MRAC methods. MRACPM-CIRCUS showed higher image quality compared to MRACPM-Default for the same acquisition times, demonstrating that a data acquisition time of 30 s was reasonable to achieve phase-matched µ-maps. Lesion update differences between MRACPM-CIRCUS (30 s) versus MRACPM-Default (reference, 100 s) were 0.1%  ±  1.4% (range of  -2.7% to 3.2%) and not significant (P  >  .05); while, the differences between MRACUM versus MRACPM-Default were 0.6%  ±  11.4% with a large variation (range of  -37% to 20%) and significant (P  <  .05). In conclusion, we demonstrated that a data acquisition of 30 s achieved phase-matched µ-maps when using specialized CIRCUS data sampling and phase-matched µ-maps improved PETQ quantification significantly.

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