BACKGROUND: Standardization protocols and guidelines for positron emission tomography (PET) in multicenter trials are available, despite a large variability in image acquisition and reconstruction parameters exist. In this study, we investigated the compliance of PET scans to the guidelines of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM). From these results, we provide recommendations for future multicenter studies using PET.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Patients included in a multicenter randomized phase II study had repeated PET scans for early response assessment. Relevant acquisition and reconstruction parameters were extracted from the digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM) header of the images. The PET image parameters were compared to the guidelines of the EANM for tumor imaging version 1.0 recommended parameters.
RESULTS: From the 223 included patients, 167 baseline scans and 118 response scans were available from 15 hospitals. Scans of 19% of the patients had an uptake time that fulfilled the Uniform Protocols for Imaging in Clinical Trials response assessment criteria. The average quality score over all hospitals was 69%. Scans with a non-compliant uptake time had a larger standard deviation of the mean standardized uptake value (SUVmean) of the liver than scans with compliant uptake times.
CONCLUSIONS: Although a standardization protocol was agreed on, there was a large variability in imaging parameters. For future, multicenter studies including PET imaging a prospective central quality review during patient inclusion is needed to improve compliance with image standardization protocols as defined by EANM.