Motion management in positron emission tomography/computed tomography for radiation treatment planning

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Hybrid positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) scanners combine, in a unique gantry, 2 of the most important diagnostic imaging systems, a CT and a PET tomograph, enabling anatomical (CT) and functional (PET) studies to be performed in a single study session. Furthermore, as the 2 scanners use the same spatial coordinate system, the reconstructed CT and PET images are spatially co-registered, allowing an accurate localization of the functional signal over the corresponding anatomical structure. This peculiarity of the hybrid PET/CT system results in improved tumor characterization for oncological applications, and more recently, it was found to be also useful for target volume definition (TVD) and treatment planning in radiotherapy (RT) applications. In fact, the use of combined PET/CT information has been shown to improve the RT treatment plan when compared with that obtained by a CT alone. A limiting factor to the accuracy of TVD by PET/CT is organ and tumor motion, which is mainly due to patient respiration. In fact, respiratory motion has a degrading effect on PET/CT image quality, and this is also critical for TVD, as it can lead to possible tumor missing or undertreatment. Thus, the management of respiratory motion is becoming an increasingly essential component in RT treatment planning; indeed, it has been recognized that the use of personalized motion information can improve TVD and, consequently, permit increased tumor dosage while sparing surrounding healthy tissues and organs at risk. This review describes the methods used for motion management in PET/CT for radiation treatment planning. The article covers the following: (1) problems caused by organ and lesion motion owing to respiration, and the artifacts generated on CT, PET, and PET/CT images; (2) data acquisition and processing techniques used to manage respiratory motion in PET/CT studies; and (3) the use of personalized motion information for TVD and radiation treatment planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-307
Number of pages19
JournalSeminars in Nuclear Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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