PURPOSE: Recently, updated EARL specifications (EARL2) have been developed and announced. This study aims at investigating the impact of the EARL2 specifications on the quantitative reads of clinical PET-CT studies and testing a method to enable the use of the EARL2 standards whilst still generating quantitative reads compliant with current EARL standards (EARL1).
METHODS: Thirteen non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and seventeen lymphoma PET-CT studies were used to derive four image datasets-the first dataset complying with EARL1 specifications and the second reconstructed using parameters as described in EARL2. For the third (EARL2F6) and fourth (EARL2F7) dataset in EARL2, respectively, 6 mm and 7 mm Gaussian post-filtering was applied. We compared the results of quantitative metrics (MATV, SUVmax, SUVpeak, SUVmean, TLG, and tumor-to-liver and tumor-to-blood pool ratios) obtained with these 4 datasets in 55 suspected malignant lesions using three commonly used segmentation/volume of interest (VOI) methods (MAX41, A50P, SUV4).
RESULTS: We found that with EARL2 MAX41 VOI method, MATV decreases by 22%, TLG remains unchanged and SUV values increase by 23-30% depending on the specific metric used. The EARL2F7 dataset produced quantitative metrics best aligning with EARL1, with no significant differences between most of the datasets (p>0.05). Different VOI methods performed similarly with regard to SUV metrics but differences in MATV as well as TLG were observed. No significant difference between NSCLC and lymphoma cancer types was observed.
CONCLUSIONS: Application of EARL2 standards can result in higher SUVs, reduced MATV and slightly changed TLG values relative to EARL1. Applying a Gaussian filter to PET images reconstructed using EARL2 parameters successfully yielded EARL1 compliant data.