Understanding the importance of quality control and quality assurance in preclinical PET/CT imaging

Wendy A. McDougald*, Julia G. Mannheim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The fundamental principle of experimental design is to ensure efficiency and efficacy of the performed experiments. Therefore, it behoves the researcher to gain knowledge of the technological equipment to be used. This should include an understanding of the instrument quality control and assurance requirements to avoid inadequate or spurious results due to instrumentation bias whilst improving reproducibility. Here, the important role of preclinical positron emission tomography/computed tomography and the scanner's required quality control and assurance is presented along with the suggested guidelines for quality control and assurance.
There are a multitude of factors impeding the continuity and reproducibility of preclinical research data within a single laboratory as well as across laboratories. A more robust experimental design incorporating validation or accreditation of the scanner performance can reduce inconsistencies. Moreover, the wellbeing and welfare of the laboratory animals being imaged is prime justification for refining experimental designs to include verification of instrumentation quality control and assurance. Suboptimal scanner performance is not consistent with the 3R principle (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement) and potentially subjects animals to unnecessary harm. Thus, quality assurance and control should be of paramount interest to any scientist conducting animal studies.
For this reason, through this work, we intend to raise the awareness of researchers using PET/CT regarding quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) guidelines and instil the importance of confirming that these are routinely followed. We introduce a basic understanding of the PET/CT scanner, present the purpose of QC/QA as well as provide evidence of imaging data biases caused by lack of QC/QA. This is shown through a review of the literature, QC/QA accepted standard protocols and our research. We also want to encourage researchers to have discussions with the PET/CT facilities manager and/or technicians to develop the optimal designed PET/CT experiment for obtaining their scientific objective. Additionally, this work provides an easy gateway to multiple resources not only for PET/CT knowledge but for guidelines and assistance in preclinical experimental design to enhance scientific integrity of the data and ensure animal welfare.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEJNMMI physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


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