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Artifacts can result when reconstructing a dynamic image sequence from inconsistent, as well as insufficient and truncated, cone beam single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) projection data acquired by a slowly rotating gantry. The artifacts can lead to biases in kinetic model parameters estimated from time-activity curves generated by overlaying volumes of interest on the images. However, the biases in time-activity curve estimates and subsequent kinetic parameter estimates can be reduced significantly by first modeling the spatial and temporal distribution of the radiopharmaceutical throughout the projected field of view and then estimating the time-activity curves directly from the projections. This approach is potentially useful for clinical SPECT studies involving slowly rotating gantries, particularly those using a single-detector system or body contouring orbits with a multidetector system. The authors have implemented computationally efficient methods for fully four-dimensional (4-D) direct estimation of spatiotemporal distributions from dynamic SPECT projection data. Temporal B-splines providing various orders of temporal continuity, as well as various time samplings, were used to model the time-activity curves for segmented blood pool and tissue volumes in simulated cone beam and parallel beam cardiac data acquisitions. Least-squares estimates of time-activity curves were obtained quickly using a workstation. Given faithful spatial modeling, accurate curve estimates were obtained using cubic, quadratic, or linear B-splines and a relatively rapid time sampling during initial tracer uptake. From these curves, kinetic parameters were estimated accurately for noiseless data and with some bias for noisy data. A preliminary study of spatial segmentation errors showed that spatial model mismatch adversely affected quantitative accuracy, but also resulted in structured errors (projected model versus raw data) that were easily detected in the authors' s- - imulations. This suggests iterative refinement of the spatial model to reduce structured errors as an area of future research.
Date of Publication: May 2000