PET/MRI scanners cannot be qualified in the manner adopted for hybrid PET/CT devices. The main hurdle with qualification in PET/MRI is that attenuation correction (AC) cannot be adequately measured in conventional PET phantoms because of the difficulty in converting the MR images of the physical structures (e.g., plastic) into electron density maps. Over the last decade, a plethora of novel MRI-based algorithms has been developed to more accurately derive the attenuation properties of the human head, including the skull. Although promising, none of these techniques has yet emerged as an optimal and universally adopted strategy for AC in PET/MRI. In this work, we propose a path for PET/MRI qualification for multicenter brain imaging studies. Specifically, our solution is to separate the head AC from the other factors that affect PET data quantification and use a patient as a phantom to assess the former. The emission data collected on the integrated PET/MRI scanner to be qualified should be reconstructed using both MRI- and CT-based AC methods, and whole-brain qualitative and quantitative (both voxelwise and regional) analyses should be performed. The MRI-based approach will be considered satisfactory if the PET quantification bias is within the acceptance criteria specified here. We have implemented this approach successfully across 2 PET/MRI scanner manufacturers at 2 sites.
- Attenuation correction
- Multicenter trials