Assessment of cardiac single-photon emission computed tomography performance using a scanning linear observer

Chih Jie Lee, Matthew A. Kupinski, Lana Volokh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is widely used to detect myocardial ischemia and myocardial infarction. It is important to assess and compare different SPECT system designs in order to achieve the highest detectability of cardiac defects. Methods: Whitaker 's study ["Estimating random signal parameters from noisy images with nuisance parameters: linear and scanning-linear methods," Opt. Express 16(11), 8150-8173 (2008)]10.1364/OE.16.008150 on the scanning linear observer (SLO) shows that the SLO can be used to estimate the location and size of signals. One major advantage of the SLO is that it can be used with projection data rather than with reconstruction data. Thus, this observer model assesses the overall hardware performance independent of any reconstruction algorithm. In addition, the computation time of image quality studies is significantly reduced. In this study, three systems based on the design of the GE cadmium zinc telluride-based dedicated cardiac SPECT camera Discovery 530c were assessed. This design, which is officially named the Alcyone Technology: Discovery NM 530c, was commercialized in August, 2009. The three systems, GE27, GE19, and GE13, contain 27, 19, and 13 detectors, respectively. Clinically, a human heart can be virtually segmented into three coronary artery territories: the left-anterior descending artery, left-circumflex artery, and right coronary artery. One of the most important functions of a cardiac SPECT system is to produce images from which a radiologist can accurately predict in which territory the defect exists [, Guideline from American Society of Nuclear Cardiology]. A good estimation of the extent of the defect from the projection images is also very helpful for determining the seriousness of the myocardial ischemia. In this study, both the location and extent of defects were estimated by the SLO, and the system performance was assessed by localization receiver operating characteristic (LROC) [P. Khurd and G. Gindi, "Decision strategies maximizing the area under the LROC curve," Proc. SPIE 5749, 150-161 (2005)]10.1117/12.595915 or estimation receiver operating characteristic (EROC) [E. Clarkson, "Estimation receiver operating characteristic curve and ideal observers for combined detection/estimation tasks," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 24, B91-B98 (2007)]10.1364/JOSAA.24.000B91 curves. Results: The area under the LROC/EROC curve (AULC/AUEC) and the true positive fraction (TPF) at a specific false positive fraction (FPF) can be treated as the figures of merit. For radii estimation with a 1 mm tolerance, the AUEC values of the GE27, GE19, and GE13 systems are 0.8545, 0.8488, and 0.8329, and the TPF at FPF = 5% are 77.1%, 76.46%, and 73.55%, respectively. The assessment of all three systems revealed that the GE19 system yields estimated information and cardiac defect detectability very close to those of the GE27 system while using eight fewer detectors. Thus, 30% of the expensive detector units can be removed with confidence. Conclusions: As the results show, a combination of the SLO and LROC/EROC curves can determine the configuration that yields the most relevant estimation/detection information. Thus, this is a useful method for assessing cardiac SPECT systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011906
JournalMedical physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • LROC
  • cardiac SPECT
  • image quality
  • scanning linear observer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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