Bias Reduction for Low Statistics PET
Positron emission tomography data are typically reconstructed with maximum likelihood expectation maximization (MLEM). However, MLEM suffers from positive bias due to the non-negativity constraint. This is particularly problematic for tracer kinetic modeling. Two reconstruction methods with bias reduction properties that do not use strict Poisson optimization are presented and compared to each other, to filtered backprojection (FBP), and to MLEM. The first method is an extension of NEGML, where the Poisson distribution is replaced by a Gaussian distribution for low count data points. The transition point between the Gaussian and the Poisson regime is a parameter of the model. The second method is a simplification of ABML. ABML has a lower and upper bound for the reconstructed image whereas AML has the upper bound set to infinity.
AML uses a negative lower bound to obtain bias reduction properties. Different choices of the lower bound are studied. The parameter of both algorithms determines the effectiveness of the bias reduction and should be chosen large enough to ensure bias-freeimages. This means that both algorithms become more similar to least squares algorithms, which turned out to be necessary to obtain bias-free reconstructions. This comes at the cost of increased variance. Nevertheless, NEGML and AML have lower variance than FBP. Furthermore, randoms handling has a large influence on the bias. Reconstruction with smoothed randoms results in lower bias compared to reconstruction with unsmoothed randoms or randoms precorrected data. However, NEGML and AML yield both bias-free images for large values of their parameter.
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