Physiological measures per lung parenchyma, rather than per lung volume, sometimes reflect the disease status. PET images of the lung, which are usually expressed per lung volume, could confound the interpretation of the disease status, especially in cases with a prominent heterogeneity in aeration. The aim of the present study was to develop a method for measuring pulmonary blood flow (PBF) with aeration correction using 15O-H2O PET and to compare the results with those obtained using a conventional method. We obtained the voxel-based tissue fraction (TF) derived from density images converted from transmission images obtained using an external 137Cs point source. Quantitative PBF values with and without the TF were calculated using 15O-H2O PET to examine contralateral lung tissue in 9 patients with unilateral lung cancer. The heterogeneity in PBF before and after TF correction was then evaluated and compared. As a measure of PBF heterogeneity, we used the skewness and kurtosis of the PBF distribution.
The mean PBF of contralateral lung was 1.4 ± 0.3 mL/min per mL of lung. The TF-corrected PBF was 5.0 ± 0.6 mL/min per mL of lung parenchyma. After TF correction, the skewness and kurtosis of the PBF decreased significantly.
The present PBF calculation method using TF correction demonstrated that the normal PBF increased significantly and the PBF distribution became uniform. The proposed TF correction method is a promising technique to account for variations in density when interpreting PBF in PET studies.