PET-MRI is under investigation as a new strategy for quantitative myocardial perfusion imaging. Consideration is required as to the maximum scanner count rate in order to limit dead-time losses resulting from administered activity in the scanner field of view during the first pass of the radiotracer.
We performed a decaying-source experiment to investigate the high count-rate performance of a PET-MR system (Siemens mMR) over the expected range of activities during a clinical study. We also performed imaging of a cardiac perfusion phantom, which provides an experimental simulation of clinical transit of a simultaneous radiotracer (phantom injected activities range 252 to 997 MBq) and gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA). Time-activity and time-intensity curves of the aorta and myocardium compartments from PET and MR images were determined, and quantification of perfusion was then performed using a standard cardiac kinetic model. The decaying-source experiment showed a maximum noise equivalent count rate (NECR max) of 286 kcps at a singles rate of 47.1 Mcps. NECR was maintained within 5% (NECR 95%) of the NECR max with a singles rate of 34.1 Mcps, corresponding to 310 MBq in the phantom. Count-rate performance was degraded above the singles rate of 64.9 Mcps due to the number of detection events impacting the quantitative accuracy of reconstructed images. A 10% bias in image activity concentration was observed between singles rates of 78.2 and 82.9 Mcps. Perfusion phantom experiments showed that image-based activity concentration and quantified values of perfusion were affected by count losses when the total singles rate was greater than 64.9 Mcps. This occurred during the peak arterial input function (AIF) phase of imaging for injected activities to the phantom of 600 MBq and greater.
Care should be taken to avoid high count-rate losses in simultaneous PET-MRI studies. Based on our results in phantoms, bias in reconstructed images should be avoided by adhering to a singles rate lower than 64.9 Mcps on the mMR system. Quantification of perfusion values using singles rates higher than 64.9 Mcps on this system may be compromised and should be avoided.