Metallic prosthetic replacements, such as hip or knee implants, are known to cause strong streaking artefacts in CT images. These artefacts likely induce over- or underestimation of the activity concentration near the metallic implants when applying CT-based attenuation correction of positron emission tomography (PET) images. Since this degrades the diagnostic quality of the images, metal artefact reduction (MAR) prior to attenuation correction is required.
The proposed MAR method, referred to as virtual sinogram-based technique, replaces the projection bins of the sinogram that are influenced by metallic implants by a 2-D Clough-Tocher cubic interpolation scheme performed in an irregular grid, called Delaunay triangulated grid. To assess the performance of the proposed method, a physical phantom and 30 clinical PET/CT studies including hip prostheses were used. The results were compared to the method implemented on the Siemens Biograph mCT PET/CT scanner.
Both phantom and clinical studies revealed that the proposed method performs equally well as the Siemens MAR method in the regions corresponding to bright streaking artefacts and the artefact-free regions. However, in regions corresponding to dark streaking artefacts, the Siemens method does not seem to appropriately correct the tracer uptake while the proposed method consistently increased the uptake in the underestimated regions, thus bringing it to the expected level. This observation is corroborated by the experimental phantom study which demonstrates that the proposed method approaches the true activity concentration more closely.
The proposed MAR method allows more accurate CT-based attenuation correction of PET images and prevents misinterpretation of tracer uptake, which might be biased owing to the propagation of bright and dark streaking artefacts from CT images to the PET data following the attenuation correction procedure.