Purpose: Dedicated cardiac SPECT scanners have improved performance over standard gamma cameras allowing reductions in acquisition times and/or injected activity. One approach to improving performance has been to use pinhole collimators, but this can cause position-dependent variations in attenuation, sensitivity, and spatial resolution. CT attenuation correction (AC) and an accurate system model can compensate for many of these effects; however, scatter correction (SC) remains an outstanding issue. In addition, in cameras using cadmium-zinc-telluride-based detectors, a large portion of unscattered photons is detected with reduced energy (low-energy tail). Consequently, application of energy-based SC approaches in these cameras leads to a higher increase in noise than with standard cameras due to the subtraction of true counts detected in the low-energy tail. Model-based approaches with parallel-hole collimator systems accurately calculate scatter based on the physics of photon interactions in the patient and camera and generate lower-noise estimates of scatter than energy-based SC. In this study, the accuracy of a model-based SC method was assessed using physical phantom studies on the GE-Discovery NM530c and its performance was compared to a dual energy window (DEW)-SC method. Methods: The analytical photon distribution (APD) method was used to calculate the distribution of probabilities that emitted photons will scatter in the surrounding scattering medium and be subsequently detected. APD scatter calculations for 99mTc-SPECT (140±14 keV) were validated with point-source measurements and 15 anthropomorphic cardiac-torso phantom experiments and varying levels of extra-cardiac activity causing scatter inside the heart. The activity inserted into the myocardial compartment of the phantom was first measured using a dose calibrator. CT images were acquired on an Infinia Hawkeye (GE Healthcare) SPECT/CT and coregistered with emission data for AC. For comparison, DEW scatter projections (120±6 keV) were also extracted from the acquired list-mode SPECT data. Either APD or DEW scatter projections were subtracted from corresponding 140 keV measured projections and then reconstructed with AC (APD-SC and DEW-SC). Quantitative accuracy of the activity measured in the heart for the APD-SC and DEW-SC images was assessed against dose calibrator measurements. The difference between modeled and acquired projections was measured as the root-mean-squared-error (RMSE). APD-modeled projections for a clinical cardiac study were also evaluated. Results: APD-modeled projections showed good agreement with SPECT measurements and had reduced noise compared to DEW scatter estimates. APD-SC reduced mean error in activity measurement compared to DEW-SC in images and the reduction was statistically significant where the scatter fraction (SF) was large (mean SF = 28.5%, T-test p = 0.007). APD-SC reduced measurement uncertainties as well; however, the difference was not found to be statistically significant (F-test p > 0.5). RMSE comparisons showed that elevated levels of scatter did not significantly contribute to a change in RMSE (p > 0.2). Conclusions: Model-based APD scatter estimation is feasible for dedicated cardiac SPECT scanners with pinhole collimators. APD-SC images performed better than DEW-SC images and improved the accuracy of activity measurement in high-scatter scenarios.

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Keywords cardiac SPECT, CZT, quantitative imaging, scatter correction
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1118/1.4965806
Journal Medical Physics
Pourmoghaddas, A. (Amir), & Wells, R.G. (R. Glenn). (2016). Analytically based photon scatter modeling for a multipinhole cardiac SPECT camera. Medical Physics, 43(11), 6098–6108. doi:10.1118/1.4965806