Hybrid PET- and MR-driven attenuation correction for enhanced 18F-NaF and 18F-FDG quantification in cardiovascular PET/MR imaging.
BACKGROUND: The standard MR Dixon-based attenuation correction (AC) method in positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance (PET/MR) imaging segments only the air, lung, fat and soft-tissues (4-class), thus neglecting the highly attenuating bone tissues and affecting quantification in bones and adjacent vessels. We sought to address this limitation by utilizing the distinctively high bone uptake rate constant Ki expected from 18F-Sodium Fluoride (18F-NaF) to segment bones from PET data and support 5-class hybrid PET/MR-driven AC for 18F-NaF and 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) PET/MR cardiovascular imaging. METHODS: We introduce 5-class Ki/MR-AC for (i) 18F-NaF studies where the bones are segmented from Patlak Ki images and added as the 5th tissue class to the MR Dixon 4-class AC map. Furthermore, we propose two alternative dual-tracer protocols to permit 5-class Ki/MR-AC for (ii) 18F-FDG-only data, with a streamlined simultaneous administration of 18F-FDG and 18F-NaF at 4:1 ratio (R4:1), or (iii) for 18F-FDG-only or both 18F-FDG and 18F-NaF dual-tracer data, by administering 18F-NaF 90 minutes after an equal 18F-FDG dosage (R1:1). The Ki-driven bone segmentation was validated against computed tomography (CT)-based segmentation in rabbits, followed by PET/MR validation on 108 vertebral bone and carotid wall regions in 16 human volunteers with and without prior indication of carotid atherosclerosis disease (CAD). RESULTS: In rabbits, we observed similar (< 1.2% mean difference) vertebral bone 18F-NaF SUVmean scores when applying 5-class AC with Ki-segmented bone (5-class Ki/CT-AC) vs CT-segmented bone (5-class CT-AC) tissue. Considering the PET data corrected with continuous CT-AC maps as gold-standard, the percentage SUVmean bias was reduced by 17.6% (18F-NaF) and 15.4% (R4:1) with 5-class Ki/CT-AC vs 4-class CT-AC. In humans without prior CAD indication, we reported 17.7% and 20% higher 18F-NaF target-to-background ratio (TBR) at carotid bifurcations wall and vertebral bones, respectively, with 5- vs 4-class AC. In the R4:1 human cohort, the mean 18F-FDG:18F-NaF TBR increased by 12.2% at carotid bifurcations wall and 19.9% at vertebral bones. For the R1:1 cohort of subjects without CAD indication, mean TBR increased by 15.3% (18F-FDG) and 15.5% (18F-NaF) at carotid bifurcations and 21.6% (18F-FDG) and 22.5% (18F-NaF) at vertebral bones. Similar TBR enhancements were observed when applying the proposed AC method to human subjects with prior CAD indication. CONCLUSIONS: Ki-driven bone segmentation and 5-class hybrid PET/MR-driven AC is feasible and can significantly enhance 18F-NaF and 18F-FDG contrast and quantification in bone tissues and carotid walls.