Clin Nucl Med. 2023 Oct 26. doi: 10.1097/RLU.0000000000004912. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Medical imaging artifacts compromise image quality and quantitative analysis and might confound interpretation and misguide clinical decision-making. The present work envisions and demonstrates a new paradigm PET image Quality Assurance NETwork (PET-QA-NET) in which various image artifacts are detected and disentangled from images without prior knowledge of a standard of reference or ground truth for routine PET image quality assurance.
METHODS: The network was trained and evaluated using training/validation/testing data sets consisting of 669/100/100 artifact-free oncological 18F-FDG PET/CT images and subsequently fine-tuned and evaluated on 384 (20% for fine-tuning) scans from 8 different PET centers. The developed DL model was quantitatively assessed using various image quality metrics calculated for 22 volumes of interest defined on each scan. In addition, 200 additional 18F-FDG PET/CT scans (this time with artifacts), generated using both CT-based attenuation and scatter correction (routine PET) and PET-QA-NET, were blindly evaluated by 2 nuclear medicine physicians for the presence of artifacts, diagnostic confidence, image quality, and the number of lesions detected in different body regions.
RESULTS: Across the volumes of interest of 100 patients, SUV MAE values of 0.13 ± 0.04, 0.24 ± 0.1, and 0.21 ± 0.06 were reached for SUVmean, SUVmax, and SUVpeak, respectively (no statistically significant difference). Qualitative assessment showed a general trend of improved image quality and diagnostic confidence and reduced image artifacts for PET-QA-NET compared with routine CT-based attenuation and scatter correction.
CONCLUSION: We developed a highly effective and reliable quality assurance tool that can be embedded routinely to detect and correct for 18F-FDG PET image artifacts in clinical setting with notably improved PET image quality and quantitative capabilities.