Chair for Computer Aided Medical Procedures & Augmented Reality
Lehrstuhl für Informatikanwendungen in der Medizin & Augmented Reality

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G. Delso, A. Martinez-Möller, R. Bundschuh, S. Nekolla, S. I. Ziegler, M. Schwaiger
Preliminary study of the detectability of coronary plaque with PET
Physics in Medicine and Biology 2011, 56(7):2145-2160. (bib)

The evaluation of coronary plaque vulnerability could be of great diagnostic value in cardiology. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a good candidate due to its ability to quantify micromolar concentrations of targeted drugs. However, the detectability of sub-voxel targets such as coronary plaque is limited by partial volume effects and by cardiorespiratory motion. The goal of this paper is to investigate the impact of these factors in the detectability of plaque uptake. Radioactive markers were implanted on the epicardium of a pig and in vivo scans were performed. This was complemented with phantom measurements to determine the minimum detectable uptake as a function of background activity. Simulations were used to evaluate the effect of cardiorespiratory motion on the reconstructed lesions. Despite cardiorespiratory motion of up to 7 mm, the markers were detectable in the in vivo scans even after the injection of background. A lower limit of 250 Bq was found for a target to be detectable. Motion reduced the contrast of the reconstructed lesions to 23% of their static counterpart. Respiratory gating improved this to 49% of the static value. The results suggest that coronary plaque evaluation with PET is possible, provided that sufficient plaque-tomyocardium uptake contrast (50 to 100) can be achieved. This requirement increases exponentially for lesions with uptake below 250 Bq. The described experiments provide a means of estimating the minimum uptake and contrast required to ensure the detectability of plaque lesions.
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