Background: Spatial normalization is a prerequisite step for analyzing positron emission tomography (PET) images both by using volume-of-interest (VOI) template and voxel-based analysis. Magnetic resonance (MR) or ligand-specific PET templates are currently used for spatial normalization of PET images. We used computed tomography (CT) images acquired with PET/CT scanner for the spatial normalization for [18F]-N-3-fluoropropyl-2-betacarboxymethoxy-3-beta-(4-iodophenyl) nortropane (FP-CIT) PET images and compared target-to-cerebellar standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR) values with those obtained from MR- or PET-guided spatial normalization method in healthy controls and patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Methods: We included 71 healthy controls and 56 patients with PD who underwent [18F]-FP-CIT PET scans with a PET/CT scanner and T1-weighted MR scans. Spatial normalization of MR images was done with a conventional spatial normalization tool (cvMR) and with DARTEL toolbox (dtMR) in statistical parametric mapping software. The CT images were modified in two ways, skull-stripping (ssCT) and intensity transformation (itCT). We normalized PET images with cvMR-, dtMR-, ssCT-, itCT-, and PET-guided methods by using specific templates for each modality and measured striatal SUVR with a VOI template. The SUVR values measured with FreeSurfer-generated VOIs (FSVOI) overlaid on original PET images were also used as a gold standard for comparison. Results: The SUVR values derived from all four structure-guided spatial normalization methods were highly correlated with those measured with FSVOI (P < 0.0001). Putaminal SUVR values were highly effective for discriminating PD patients from controls. However, the PET-guided method excessively overestimated striatal SUVR values in the PD patients by more than 30% in caudate and putamen, and thereby spoiled the linearity between the striatal SUVR values in all subjects and showed lower disease discrimination ability. Two CT-guided methods showed comparable capability with the MR-guided methods in separating PD patients from controls and showed better correlation between putaminal SUVR values and the parkinsonian motor severity than the PET-guided method. Conclusion: CT-guided spatial normalization methods provided reliable striatal SUVR values comparable to those obtained with MR-guided methods. CT-guided methods can be useful for analyzing dopamine transporter PET images when MR images are unavailable.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)