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Segmentation of Rodent Whole-Body Dynamic PET Images: An Unsupervised Method Based on Voxel Dynamics

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10 Author(s)

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a useful tool for pharmacokinetics studies in rodents during the preclinical phase of drug and tracer development. However, rodent organs are small as compared to the scanner's intrinsic resolution and are affected by physiological movements. We present a new method for the segmentation of rodent whole-body PET images that takes these two difficulties into account by estimating the pharmacokinetics far from organ borders. The segmentation method proved efficient on whole-body numerical rat phantom simulations, including 3-14 organs, together with physiological movements (heart beating, breathing, and bladder filling). The method was resistant to spillover and physiological movements, while other methods failed to obtain a correct segmentation. The radioactivity concentrations calculated with this method also showed an excellent correlation with the manual delineation of organs in a large set of preclinical images. In addition, it was faster, detected more organs, and extracted organs' mean time activity curves with a better confidence on the measure than manual delineation.

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Medical Imaging, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 3 )