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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Spatial analysis of positron emission tomography images of Parkinson's disease using 3D moment invariants Gonzalez, Marjorie Emily


Positron emission tomography (PET) produces images of functional processes of the body in-vivo. The analysis of PET data for research purposes traditionally involves kinetic modeling of the concentration of the radiotracer over time within a region of interest (ROI) in the body to derive parameters related to the uptake/binding of the radiotracer in that region. PET imaging is commonly used to study Parkinson's disease (PD), where loss of motor function is caused by the progressive death of neurons in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. In PD, both the kinetic and the spatial distribution of the tracer change due to the disease: the posterior parts of the striatum (in particular in the putamen) are affected before the anterior parts. The purpose of this dissertation is to develop a novel analysis method for PET data that uses the spatial characteristics of the radiotracer's distribution within anatomically-defined ROIs to extract additional information about pathological states. The proposed analysis method is based on mathematical 3D shape descriptors that are invariant to translation, scaling, and rotation, called 3D moment invariants (3DMIs). The variable of interest in this case is not only the radiotracer's uptake rate constant or binding potential, but also the 3D spatial shape and distribution of the radioactivity within the ROI. This dissertation shows that 3DMIs were able to successfully quantify differences in the spatial distribution of PET radiotracer images between healthy controls and PD subjects. 3DMI values were found to correlate with a clinical measure of disease severity in all anatomical regions studied here (putamen, caudate and ventral striatum), as opposed to kinetic parameters which only showed significant correlation to clinically-assessed PD severity in the putamen. Levodopa-induced changes in spatial patterns of dopamine release (as measured using 3DMIs) were found to be significantly correlated with PD severity in all ROIs studied here. These findings suggest that quantitative studies of a radiotracer's spatial distribution can be complementary to kinetic modeling in extracting information about pathological states from PET data and have the potential to contribute novel information in PET neuroimaging studies.

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