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Stationary small-animal SPECT systems are being developed for rapid dynamic imaging from limited angular views. This work quantified, through simulations, the performance of Maximum Likelihood Expectation Maximization (MLEM) for reconstructing a time-activity curve (TAC) with uptake duration of a few seconds from a stationary, three-camera multi-pinhole SPECT system. The study also quantified the benefits of a heuristic method of initializing the reconstruction with a prior image reconstructed from a conventional number of views, for example from data acquired during the late-study portion of the dynamic TAC. We refer to MLEM reconstruction initialized by a prior-image initial guess (IG) as MLEMig. The effect of the prior-image initial guess on the depiction of contrast between two regions of a static phantom was quantified over a range of angular sampling schemes. A TAC was modeled from the experimentally measured uptake of 99mTc-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime (HMPAO) in the rat lung. The resulting time series of simulated images was quantitatively analyzed with respect to the accuracy of the estimated exponential washin and washout parameters. In both static and dynamic phantom studies, the prior-image initial guess improved the spatial depiction of the phantom, for example improved definition of the cylinder boundaries and more accurate quantification of relative contrast between cylinders. For example in the dynamic study, there was ~ 50% error in relative contrast for MLEM reconstructions compared to ~ 25-30% error for MLEMig. In the static phantom study, the benefits of the initial guess decreased as the number of views increased. The prior-image initial guess introduced an additive offset in the reconstructed dynamic images, likely due to biases introduced by the prior image. MLEM initialized with a uniform initial guess yielded images that faithfully reproduced the time dependence of the simulated TAC; there were no s- atistically significant differences in the mean exponential washin/washout parameters estimated from MLEM reconstructions compared to the true values. Washout parameters estimated from MLEMig reconstructions did not differ significantly from the true values, however the estimated washin parameter differed significantly from the true value in some cases. Overall, MLEM reconstruction from few views and a uniform initial guess accurately quantified the time dependance of the TAC while introducing errors in the spatial depiction of the object. Initializing the reconstruction with a late-study initial guess improved spatial accuracy while decreasing temporal accuracy in some cases.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013