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Purpose: One issue with amplitude binning list-mode studies in SPECT for respiratory motion correction is that variation in the patient's respiratory pattern will result in binned motion states with little or no counts at various projection angles. The reduced counts result in limited-angle reconstruction artifacts which can impact the accuracy of the necessary motion estimation needed to correct the images. In this work, the authors investigate a method to overcome the effect of limited-angle reconstruction artifacts in SPECT when estimating respiratory motion. Methods: In the first pass of the reconstruction method, only the projection angles with significant counts in common between the binned respiratory states are used in order to better estimate the motion between them. After motion estimation, the estimates are used to correct for motion within iterative reconstruction using all of the acquired projection data. Results: Using simulated SPECT studies based on the NCAT phantom, the authors demonstrate the problem caused by having data available for only a limited number of angles when estimating motion and the utility of the proposed method in diminishing this error. For NCAT data sets with a clinically appropriate level of Poisson noise, the average registration error for motion with the proposed method was always less with the use of their algorithm, the reduction being statistically significant (p<0.05) in the majority of cases. The authors illustrate the ability of their method to correct the degradations caused by respiratory motion in short-axis slices and polar maps of the NCAT phantom for cases with 1 and 2 cm amplitudes of respiratory motion. In four cardiac-perfusion patients acquired on the same day, the authors demonstrate the large variability of the number of counts in the amplitude-binned projections. Finally, the authors demonstrate a visual improvement in the slices and polar maps of patient studies with the algorithm for respiratory motion correction. Conclusions: The authors' method shows promise in reducing errors in respiratory motion estimation despite the presence of limited-angle reconstruction effects due to irregularity in respiration. Improvements in image quality were observed in both simulated and clinical studies. © 2010 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.

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Medical Physics

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