On the assessment of spatial resolution of PET systems with iterative image reconstruction

Kuang Gong, Simon R. Cherry, Jinyi Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Spatial resolution is an important metric for performance characterization in PET systems. Measuring spatial resolution is straightforward with a linear reconstruction algorithm, such as filtered backprojection, and can be performed by reconstructing a point source scan and calculating the full-width-at-half-maximum (FWHM) along the principal directions. With the widespread adoption of iterative reconstruction methods, it is desirable to quantify the spatial resolution using an iterative reconstruction algorithm. However, the task can be difficult because the reconstruction algorithms are nonlinear and the non-negativity constraint can artificially enhance the apparent spatial resolution if a point source image is reconstructed without any background. Thus, it was recommended that a background should be added to the point source data before reconstruction for resolution measurement. However, there has been no detailed study on the effect of the point source contrast on the measured spatial resolution. Here we use point source scans from a preclinical PET scanner to investigate the relationship between measured spatial resolution and the point source contrast. We also evaluate whether the reconstruction of an isolated point source is predictive of the ability of the system to resolve two adjacent point sources. Our results indicate that when the point source contrast is below a certain threshold, the measured FWHM remains stable. Once the contrast is above the threshold, the measured FWHM monotonically decreases with increasing point source contrast. In addition, the measured FWHM also monotonically decreases with iteration number for maximum likelihood estimate. Therefore, when measuring system resolution with an iterative reconstruction algorithm, we recommend using a low-contrast point source and a fixed number of iterations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberN193
Pages (from-to)N193-N202
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 11 2016


  • iterative image reconstruction
  • positron emission tomography
  • spatial resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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