A Calibrated Physical Flow Standard for Medical Perfusion Imaging

Gertjan Kok, Nikola Pelevic, Amedeo Chiribiri, Xenios Milidonis, Muhummad Nazir, Myles Capstick, Sita Drost, Christian Poelma, Tobias Schaeffter, Flow Measurement and Instrumentation 2021, Volume 78, Article number 101907, online 02 February 2021; doi: h10.1016/j.flowmeasinst.2021.101907

In the medical sector, various imaging methodologies or modalities (e.g. MRI, PET, CT) are used to assess the health of various parts of the bodies of patients. One such investigation is the blood flow or perfusion within the heart muscle, expressed as the (blood) flow rate normalized by the mass of the volume of interest. Currently there is no physical flow standard for the validation of quantitative perfusion measurements. This need has been addressed in the EMPIR 15HLT05 PerfusImaging project. A phantom simulating the heart muscle has been developed with the capability that it can reproducibly generate a flow profile with individual flow rates known with a relative uncertainty of about 10% (k = 2) and total flow rate known with an uncertainty of 1% (k = 2). An overview of the phantom and its validation is given. Next, a new analysis method is presented to analyse the sequence of images which are acquired when using a standard dynamic imaging protocol. It is concluded that the new, alternative approach gives results comparable to the standard analysis method.

The scientific and technical impact of the study can be summarized as:

  • A new flow standard/phantom for validating quantitative medical perfusion imaging was developed
  • Calibration of phantom was achieved using different techniques
  • This work implemented a new flow model and data processing approach for quantifying perfusion
  • Lastly, this article presents a comparison of perfusion quantification methods