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Open Access Research article

The 2D Hotelling filter - a quantitative noise-reducing principal-component filter for dynamic PET data, with applications in patient dose reduction

Jan Axelsson1* and Jens Sörensen2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiation Sciences, Radiation Physics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

2 PET-center, Department of Radiology, Oncology and Radiation Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Medical Physics 2013, 13:1  doi:10.1186/1756-6649-13-1

Published: 10 April 2013

Abstract

Background

In this paper we apply the principal-component analysis filter (Hotelling filter) to reduce noise from dynamic positron-emission tomography (PET) patient data, for a number of different radio-tracer molecules. We furthermore show how preprocessing images with this filter improves parametric images created from such dynamic sequence.

We use zero-mean unit variance normalization, prior to performing a Hotelling filter on the slices of a dynamic time-series. The Scree-plot technique was used to determine which principal components to be rejected in the filter process. This filter was applied to [11C]-acetate on heart and head-neck tumors, [18F]-FDG on liver tumors and brain, and [11C]-Raclopride on brain. Simulations of blood and tissue regions with noise properties matched to real PET data, was used to analyze how quantitation and resolution is affected by the Hotelling filter. Summing varying parts of a 90-frame [18F]-FDG brain scan, we created 9-frame dynamic scans with image statistics comparable to 20 MBq, 60 MBq and 200 MBq injected activity. Hotelling filter performed on slices (2D) and on volumes (3D) were compared.

Results

The 2D Hotelling filter reduces noise in the tissue uptake drastically, so that it becomes simple to manually pick out regions-of-interest from noisy data. 2D Hotelling filter introduces less bias than 3D Hotelling filter in focal Raclopride uptake. Simulations show that the Hotelling filter is sensitive to typical blood peak in PET prior to tissue uptake have commenced, introducing a negative bias in early tissue uptake. Quantitation on real dynamic data is reliable. Two examples clearly show that pre-filtering the dynamic sequence with the Hotelling filter prior to Patlak-slope calculations gives clearly improved parametric image quality. We also show that a dramatic dose reduction can be achieved for Patlak slope images without changing image quality or quantitation.

Conclusions

The 2D Hotelling-filtering of dynamic PET data is a computer-efficient method that gives visually improved differentiation of different tissues, which we have observed improve manual or automated region-of-interest delineation of dynamic data. Parametric Patlak images on Hotelling-filtered data display improved clarity, compared to non-filtered Patlak slope images without measurable loss of quantitation, and allow a dramatic decrease in patient injected dose.