Comparison of a First-in-Class LINAC-Integrated PET System and a Diagnostic PET/CT Scanner


      The X1 system (“X1”) integrates a fully functional Positron Emission Tomography (PET) combined with a fan-beam kVCT system into the architecture of a ring-gantry linear accelerator (LINAC) for biology-guided radiotherapy (BgRT) delivery. The integration of PET into a LINAC framework required design features that deviate from the diagnostic setting. For instance, the X1 houses two opposed 90° PET arcs that rotate at 60 RPM to generate sinogram reconstructed images rather than a static, circumferential array of detectors. To better understand X1 PET performance, we conducted a side-by-side comparison of images of a PET phantom obtained sequentially on the X1 PET subsystem and a traditional PET/CT scanner.


      An independent quality assurance phantom utilized a custom insert with two-insert targets filled with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) diluted water. Spherical target had a diameter of 22 mm and C-shape geometry consisted of an active volume of 26mm axial length and 255-degree partial annulus with major and minor radii of 27 mm x 12 mm, respectively. The targets were filled with an activity concentration of 9.3 kBq/ml to achieve a target to background ratio of 8:1 simulating the target uptake with hot background in a patient. The phantom was imaged within 30 minutes of preparation on the X1 PET and then immediately transferred to a PET/CT Biograph scanner for a second image. This experiment was repeated three times in separate days to assess reproducibility of PET acquisition. The PET images were visually assessed by the radiation oncologists to ensure the PET signal is within PTV. The PET signals of the targets were also evaluated using the full-width-half-max (FWHM) calculated on left-right (RL), anterior-posterior (AP) and superior-inferior (SI) directions for both targets and compared to the physical dimensions of the cavities.


      The imaging acquisition tests were successfully completed on all three days for both systems, as per the prescribed workflow. In all experiments, radiation oncologists verified that the PET avid area were within the PTV in both systems. Average FWHM results of the 22 mm spherical target on X1 PET were 24.5, 21.7 and 17.0 mm as compared to 20.0, 20.0 and 18.2 mm for PET/CT in LR, AP and SI directions, respectively. For the C-shape object X1 PET resulted in 18.8, 19.5, 21.8 and 25.0 mm whereas the PET/CT resulted in 12.7, 13.2, 13.2 and 24.7 mm FWHMs for the two RL C-shape legs, AP and SI directions, respectively as compared to 15-, 15-, 15- and 26-mm physical dimensions.


      The X1 PET subsystem – which utilizes dual PET arcs and a sinogram image reconstruction algorithm in order to integrate into a LINAC architecture – generates images that are qualitatively comparable to a traditional PET scanner. In general, X1 FWHM results were slightly larger and PET/CT ones were smaller than the physical dimensions in axial plane. Both systems slightly underestimated the target size in SI direction.
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