Toward realistic and practical ideal observer (10) estimation for the optimization of medical imaging systems

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29 Scopus citations


The ideal observer (10) employs complete knowledge of the available data statistics and sets an upper limit on observer performance on a binary classification task. However, the IO test statistic cannot be calculated analytically, except for cases where object statistics are extremely simple. Kupinski et al. have developed a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) based technique to compute the IO test statistic for, in principle, arbitrarily complex objects and imaging systems. In this work, we applied MCMC to estimate the IO test statistic in the context of myocardial perfusion SPECT (MPS). We modeled the imaging system using an analytic SPECT projector with attenuation, distant-dependent detector-response modeling and Poisson noise statistics. The object is a family of parameterized torso phantoms with variable geometric and organ uptake parameters. To accelerate the imaging simulation process and thus enable the MCMC IO estimation, we used discretized anatomic parameters and continuous uptake parameters in defining the objects. The imaging process simulation was modeled by precomputing projections for each organ for a finite number of discretely-parameterized anatomic parameters and taking linear combinations of the organ projections based on continuous sampling of the organ uptake parameters. The proposed method greatly reduces the computational burden and allows MCMC IO estimation for a realistic MPS imaging simulation. We validated the proposed IO estimation technique by estimating IO test statistics for a large number of input objects. The properties of the first- and second-order statistics of the IO test statistics estimated using the MCMC IO estimation technique agreed well with theoretical predictions. Further, as expected, the IO had better performance, as measured by the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, than the Hotelling observer. This method is developed for SPECT imaging. However, it can be adapted to any linear imaging system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4505799
Pages (from-to)1535-1543
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE transactions on medical imaging
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Ideal observer
  • Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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