Department of Nuclear Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Department of Biomedical Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Institute of Radiation Medicine, Medical Research Center, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: [Email]
OBJECTIVE : We propose a multi-atlas based segmentation method for cardiac PET and SPECT images to deal with the high variability of tracer uptake characteristics in myocardium. In addition, we verify its performance by comparing it to the manual segmentation and single-atlas based approach, using dynamic myocardial PET. METHODS : Twelve left coronary artery ligated SD rats underwent ([18F]fluoropentyl) triphenylphosphonium salt PET/CT scans. Atlas-based segmentation is based on the spatial normalized template with pre-defined region-of-interest (ROI) for each anatomical or functional structure. To generate multiple left ventricular (LV) atlases, each LV image was segmented manually and divided into angular segments. The segmentation methods performances were compared in regional count information using leave-one-out cross-validation. Additionally, the polar-maps of kinetic parameters were estimated. RESULTS : In all images, the highest r2 template yielded the lowest root-mean-square error (RMSE) between the source image and the best-matching templates ranged between 0.91-0.97 and 0.06-0.11, respectively. The single-atlas and multi-atlas based ROIs yielded remarkably different perfusion distributions: only the multi-atlas based segmentation showed equivalent high correlation results (r2 = 0.92) with the manual segmentation compared with the single-atlas based (r2 = 0.88). The high perfusion value underestimation was remarkable in single-atlas based segmentation. CONCLUSIONS : The main advantage of the proposed multi-atlas based cardiac segmentation method is that it does not require any prior information on the tracer distribution to be incorporated into the image segmentation algorithms. Therefore, the same procedure suggested here is applicable to any other cardiac PET or SPECT imaging agents without modification.