Generation of the acquisition-specific NEC (AS-NEC) curves to optimize the injected dose in 3D 18F-FDG whole body PET studies

M. Danna, M. Lecchi, V. Bettinardi, M. C. Gilardi, C. W. Stearns, G. Lucignani, F. Fazio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim of this work was the implementation and validation, for the Discovery-ST PET/CT (GE Medical Systems) system, of the acquisition-specific noise equivalent counts (AS-NEC) method to establish the amount of tracer to be injected in 3D 18F-FDG whole body (WB) PET studies to achieve the peak of the NEC (NEC-p) at the acquisition time. The AS-NEC method uses prompts, delayed events and detector dead-time of a single reference PET scan to calculate the full shape of the NEC curve. The method was implemented using a 3D decay series of the 70 cm NEMA 2001 (line source in a 20 cm diameter solid polyethylene cylinder) phantom and validated with the cylindrical NEMA 1994 (diameter, 20 cm; length, 20 cm) and NEMA 2001 IEC body phantoms. The NEC curves generated by the single frames of the phantom series, using the AS-NEC method, well correlated with the experimental NEC curves proving the validity of the method and the possible application to clinical studies. The AS-NEC model was then retrospectively applied on 40 3D 18F-FDG WB studies in a range of body mass index (BMI) between 16 and 30 (kg/m 2) (6 under-weight (uw), 18 normal-weight (nw), 16 over-weight (ow)). For each acquisition frame of each patient study, the activity at the acquisition time, corresponding to the NEC-p was identified on the NEC curves. Furthermore, as the NEC curves show a region around the NEC-p with small variations (nearly a plateau), the values of radioactivity corresponding to a reduction of 1%, 3% and 5% with respect to NEC-p were also calculated to assess a possible reduction of the doses to be injected in clinical studies. The results show that the average activities at the acquisition time corresponding to the NEC-p were comparable for the three BMI classes: 336.7 MBq (sd = 22.2), 329.3 MBq (sd = 33.3), 344.1 MBq (sd = 48.1) for uw, nw and ow, respectively. Therefore, the total average NEC-p activity for the three BMI classes was 336.7 MBq (sd = 40.7). The mean values of the radioactivity at a reduction of 1%, 3% and 5% with respect to the NEC-p were: 284.9 MBq (sd = 40.7), 247.9 MBq (sd = 33.3) and 225.7 MBq (sd = 29.6) respectively. These results indicate the possibility to use, for the Discovery-ST, a single injection protocol of 448 MBq (for the range of BMI here considered) to have an activity at the acquisition time (after 45 min of uptake) of 336.7 MBq (NEC-p). Nevertheless, the plateau near the NEC-p suggests the possibility to reduce significantly the dose to be injected in clinical studies down to about 330 MBq, while preserving suitable NEC performance (-3%) with respect to the NEC-p. This result was supported by image quality assessment performed on reconstructed images of the NEMA 2001 IEC body phantom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-92
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • Data processing
  • Image analysis
  • Position emission tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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