In this paper, we investigate the performance of time-of-flight (TOF) positron emission tomography (PET) in improving lesion detectability. We present a theoretical approach to compare lesion detectability of TOF versus non- TOF systems and perform computer simulations to validate the theoretical prediction. A single-ring TOF PET tomograph is simulated using SimSET software, and images are reconstructed in 2D from list-mode data using a maximum a posteriori method. We use a channelized Hotelling observer to assess the detection performance. Both the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) and localization ROC curves are compared for the TOF and non-TOF PET systems. We first studied the SNRgains for TOF PET with different scatter and random fractions, system timing resolutions and object sizes. We found that the TOF information improves the lesion detectability and the improvement is greater with larger fractions of randoms, better timing resolution and bigger objects. The scatters by themselves have little impact on the SNR gain after correction. Since the true system timing resolutionmay not be known precisely in practice, we investigated the effect of mismatched timing kernels and showed that using a mismatched kernel during reconstruction always degrades the detection performance, no matter whether it is narrower or wider than the real value. Using the proposed theoretical framework, we also studied the effect of lumpy backgrounds on the detection performance. Our results indicated that with lumpy backgrounds, the TOF PET still outperforms the non-TOF PET, but the improvement is smaller compared with the uniform background case. More specifically, with the same correlation length, the SNR gain reduces with bigger number of lumpy patches and greater lumpy amplitudes. With the same variance, the SNR gain reaches the minimum when the width of the Gaussian lumps is close to the size of the tumor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology