Positron emission tomography (PET) with prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) have shown superior performance in detecting metastatic prostate cancers. Relative to [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose ([18F]FDG) PET images, PSMA PET images tend to visualize significantly higher-contrast focal lesions. We aim to evaluate segmentation and reconstruction algorithms in this emerging context. Specifically, Bayesian or maximum a posteriori (MAP) image reconstruction, compared to standard ordered subsets expectation maximization (OSEM) reconstruction, has received significant interest for its potential to reach convergence with minimal noise amplifications. However, few phantom studies have evaluated the quantitative accuracy of such reconstructions for high contrast, small lesions (sub-10 mm) that are typically observed in PSMA images. In this study, we cast 3 mm–16-mm spheres using epoxy resin infused with a long half-life positron emitter (sodium-22; 22Na) to simulate prostate cancer metastasis. The anthropomorphic Probe-IQ phantom, which features a liver, bladder, lungs, and ureters, was used to model relevant anatomy. Dynamic PET acquisitions were acquired and images were reconstructed with OSEM (varying subsets and iterations) and BSREM (varying β parameters), and the effects on lesion quantitation were evaluated.
The 22Na lesions were scanned against an aqueous solution containing fluorine-18 (18F) as the background. Regions-of-interest were drawn with MIM Software using 40% fixed threshold (40% FT) and a gradient segmentation algorithm (MIM’s PET Edge+). Recovery coefficients (RCs) (max, mean, peak, and newly defined “apex”), metabolic tumour volume (MTV), and total tumour uptake (TTU) were calculated for each sphere. SUVpeak and SUVapex had the most consistent RCs for different lesion-to-background ratios and reconstruction parameters. The gradient-based segmentation algorithm was more accurate than 40% FT for determining MTV and TTU, particularly for lesions $$\le$$
6 mm in diameter (R2 = 0.979–0.996 vs. R2 = 0.115–0.527, respectively).
An anthropomorphic phantom was used to evaluate quantitation for PSMA PET imaging of metastatic prostate cancer lesions. BSREM with β = 200–400 and OSEM with 2–5 iterations resulted in the most accurate and robust measurements of SUVmean, MTV, and TTU for imaging conditions in 18F-PSMA PET/CT images. SUVapex, a hybrid metric of SUVmax and SUVpeak, was proposed for robust, accurate, and segmentation-free quantitation of lesions for PSMA PET.