Improved frame-based estimation of head motion in PET brain imaging

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Radiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Medical Biophysics | Physics | Radiology


PURPOSE: Head motion during PET brain imaging can cause significant degradation of image quality. Several authors have proposed ways to compensate for PET brain motion to restore image quality and improve quantitation. Head restraints can reduce movement but are unreliable; thus the need for alternative strategies such as data-driven motion estimation or external motion tracking. Herein, the authors present a data-driven motion estimation method using a preprocessing technique that allows the usage of very short duration frames, thus reducing the intraframe motion problem commonly observed in the multiple frame acquisition method.

METHODS: The list mode data for PET acquisition is uniformly divided into 5-s frames and images are reconstructed without attenuation correction. Interframe motion is estimated using a 3D multiresolution registration algorithm and subsequently compensated for. For this study, the authors used 8 PET brain studies that used F-18 FDG as the tracer and contained minor or no initial motion. After reconstruction and prior to motion estimation, known motion was introduced to each frame to simulate head motion during a PET acquisition. To investigate the trade-off in motion estimation and compensation with respect to frames of different length, the authors summed 5-s frames accordingly to produce 10 and 60 s frames. Summed images generated from the motion-compensated reconstructed frames were then compared to the original PET image reconstruction without motion compensation.

RESULTS: The authors found that our method is able to compensate for both gradual and step-like motions using frame times as short as 5 s with a spatial accuracy of 0.2 mm on average. Complex volunteer motion involving all six degrees of freedom was estimated with lower accuracy (0.3 mm on average) than the other types investigated. Preprocessing of 5-s images was necessary for successful image registration. Since their method utilizes nonattenuation corrected frames, it is not susceptible to motion introduced between CT and PET acquisitions.

CONCLUSIONS: The authors have shown that they can estimate motion for frames with time intervals as short as 5 s using nonattenuation corrected reconstructed FDG PET brain images. Intraframe motion in 60-s frames causes degradation of accuracy to about 2 mm based on the motion type.

DOI of Published Version



Med Phys. 2016 May;43(5):2443. doi: 10.1118/1.4946814. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Medical physics

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