A method for energy window optimization for quantitative tasks that includes the effects of model-mismatch on bias: application to Y-90 bremsstrahlung SPECT imaging
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Quantitative Yttrium-90 ((90)Y) bremsstrahlung single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging has shown great potential to provide reliable estimates of (90)Y activity distribution for targeted radionuclide therapy dosimetry applications. One factor that potentially affects the reliability of the activity estimates is the choice of the acquisition energy window. In contrast to imaging conventional gamma photon emitters where the acquisition energy windows are usually placed around photopeaks, there has been great variation in the choice of the acquisition energy window for (90)Y imaging due to the continuous and broad energy distribution of the bremsstrahlung photons. In quantitative imaging of conventional gamma photon emitters, previous methods for optimizing the acquisition energy window assumed unbiased estimators and used the variance in the estimates as a figure of merit (FOM). However, for situations, such as (90)Y imaging, where there are errors in the modeling of the image formation process used in the reconstruction there will be bias in the activity estimates. In (90)Y bremsstrahlung imaging this will be especially important due to the high levels of scatter, multiple scatter, and collimator septal penetration and scatter. Thus variance will not be a complete measure of reliability of the estimates and thus is not a complete FOM. To address this, we first aimed to develop a new method to optimize the energy window that accounts for both the bias due to model-mismatch and the variance of the activity estimates. We applied this method to optimize the acquisition energy window for quantitative (90)Y bremsstrahlung SPECT imaging in microsphere brachytherapy. Since absorbed dose is defined as the absorbed energy from the radiation per unit mass of tissues in this new method we proposed a mass-weighted root mean squared error of the volume of interest (VOI) activity estimates as the FOM. To calculate this FOM, two analytical expressions were derived for calculating the bias due to model-mismatch and the variance of the VOI activity estimates, respectively. To obtain the optimal acquisition energy window for general situations of interest in clinical (90)Y microsphere imaging, we generated phantoms with multiple tumors of various sizes and various tumor-to-normal activity concentration ratios using a digital phantom that realistically simulates human anatomy, simulated (90)Y microsphere imaging with a clinical SPECT system and typical imaging parameters using a previously validated Monte Carlo simulation code, and used a previously proposed method for modeling the image degrading effects in quantitative SPECT reconstruction. The obtained optimal acquisition energy window was 100-160 keV. The values of the proposed FOM were much larger than the FOM taking into account only the variance of the activity estimates, thus demonstrating in our experiment that the bias of the activity estimates due to model-mismatch was a more important factor than the variance in terms of limiting the reliability of activity estimates.
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