A recent survey of pediatric hospitals showed a large variability in the activity administered for diagnostic nuclear medicine imaging of children. Imaging guidelines, especially for pediatric patients, must balance the risks associated with radiation exposure with the need to obtain the high-quality images necessary to derive the benefits of an accurate clinical diagnosis.
Pharmacokinetic modeling and a pediatric series of nonuniform rational B-spline–based phantoms have been used to simulate 99mTc-dimercaptosuccinic acid SPECT images. Images were generated for several different administered activities and for several lesions with different target-to-background activity concentration ratios; the phantoms were also used to calculate organ S values for 99mTc. Channelized Hotelling observer methodology was used in a receiver-operating-characteristic analysis of the diagnostic quality of images with different modeled administered activities (i.e., count densities) for anthropomorphic reference phantoms representing two 10-y-old girls with equal weights but different body morphometry. S value–based dosimetry was used to calculate the mean organ-absorbed doses to the 2 pediatric patients. Using BEIR VII age- and sex-specific risk factors, we converted absorbed doses to excess risk of cancer incidence and used them to directly assess the risk of the procedure.
Combined, these data provided information about the tradeoff between cancer risk and diagnostic image quality for 2 phantoms having the same weight but different body morphometry. The tradeoff was different for the 2 phantoms, illustrating that weight alone may not be sufficient for optimally scaling administered activity in pediatric patients.
The study illustrates implementation of a rigorous approach for balancing the benefits of adequate image quality against the radiation risks and also demonstrates that weight-based adjustment to the administered activity is suboptimal. Extension of this methodology to other radiopharmaceuticals would yield the data required to generate objective and well-founded administered activity guidelines for pediatric and other patients.
Keywords: pediatric imaging, dose reduction, image simulation, dosimetry, DMSA, optimization