Over the past 20 years, multimodal imaging strategies have motivated the fusion of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) or Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) scans with an X-ray computed tomography (CT) image to provide anatomical information, as well as a framework with which molecular and functional images may be co-registered. Recently, pre-clinical nuclear imaging technology has evolved to capture multiple SPECT or multiple PET tracers to further enhance the information content gathered within an imaging experiment. However, the use of SPECT and PET probes together, in the same animal, has remained a challenge. Here we describe a straightforward method using an integrated trimodal imaging system and a sequential dosing/acquisition protocol to achieve dual tracer imaging with 99mTc and 18F isotopes, along with anatomical CT, on an individual specimen. Dosing and imaging is completed so that minimal animal manipulations are required, full trimodal fusion is conserved, and tracer crosstalk including down-scatter of the PET tracer in SPECT mode is avoided. This technique will enhance the ability of preclinical researchers to detect multiple disease targets and perform functional, molecular, and anatomical imaging on individual specimens to increase the information content gathered within longitudinal in vivo studies.
Dual tracer imaging; trimodal imaging; Positron Emission Tomography (PET); Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT); X-ray Computed Tomography (CT); nuclear imaging
Positron emission tomography (PET) can image a wide variety of functional and physiological parameters in vivo using different radiotracers. As more is learned about the molecular basis for disease and treatment, the potential value of molecular imaging for characterizing and monitoring disease status has increased. Characterizing multiple aspects of tumor physiology by imaging multiple PET tracers in a single patient provides additional complementary information, and there is a significant body of literature supporting the potential value of multi-tracer PET imaging in oncology. However, imaging multiple PET tracers in a single patient presents a number of challenges. A number of techniques are under development for rapidly imaging multiple PET tracers in a single scan, where signal-recovery processing algorithms are employed to recover various imaging endpoints for each tracer. Dynamic imaging is generally used with tracer injections staggered in time, and kinetic constraints are utilized to estimate each tracers' contribution to the multi-tracer imaging signal. This article summarizes past and ongoing work in multi-tracer PET tumor imaging, and then organizes and describes the main algorithmic approaches for achieving multi-tracer PET signal-recovery. While significant advances have been made, the complexity of the approach necessitates protocol design, optimization, and testing for each particular tracer combination and application. Rapid multi-tracer PET techniques have great potential for both research and clinical cancer imaging applications, and continued research in this area is warranted.
PET tracers; Tumor Characterizations
Computer simulations, a phantom study and a human study were performed to determine whether a slowly rotating single-photon computed emission tomography (SPECT) system could provide accurate arterial input functions for quantification of myocardial perfusion imaging using kinetic models. The errors induced by data inconsistency associated with imaging with slow camera rotation during tracer injection were evaluated with an approach called SPECT/P (dynamic SPECT from positron emission tomography (PET)) and SPECT/D (dynamic SPECT from database of SPECT phantom projections). SPECT/P simulated SPECT-like dynamic projections using reprojections of reconstructed dynamic 94Tc-methoxyisobutylisonitrile (94Tc-MIBI) PET images acquired in three human subjects (1 min infusion). This approach was used to evaluate the accuracy of estimating myocardial wash-in rate parameters K1 for rotation speeds providing 180° of projection data every 27 or 54 s. Blood input and myocardium tissue time-activity curves (TACs) were estimated using spatiotemporal splines. These were fit to a one-compartment perfusion model to obtain wash-in rate parameters K1. For the second method (SPECT/D), an anthropomorphic cardiac torso phantom was used to create real SPECT dynamic projection data of a tracer distribution derived from 94Tc-MIBI PET scans in the blood pool, myocardium, liver and background. This method introduced attenuation, collimation and scatter into the modeling of dynamic SPECT projections. Both approaches were used to evaluate the accuracy of estimating myocardial wash-in parameters for rotation speeds providing 180° of projection data every 27 and 54 s. Dynamic cardiac SPECT was also performed in a human subject at rest using a hybrid SPECT/CT scanner. Dynamic measurements of 99mTc-tetrofosmin in the myocardium were obtained using an infusion time of 2 min. Blood input, myocardium tissue and liver TACs were estimated using the same spatiotemporal splines. The spatiotemporal maximum-likelihood expectation-maximization (4D ML-EM) reconstructions gave more accurate reconstructions than did standard frame-by-frame static 3D ML-EM reconstructions. The SPECT/P results showed that 4D ML-EM reconstruction gave higher and more accurate estimates of K1 than did 3D ML-EM, yielding anywhere from a 44% underestimation to 24% overestimation for the three patients. The SPECT/D results showed that 4D ML-EM reconstruction gave an overestimation of 28% and 3D ML-EM gave an underestimation of 1% for K1. For the patient study the 4D ML-EM reconstruction provided continuous images as a function of time of the concentration in both ventricular cavities and myocardium during the 2 min infusion. It is demonstrated that a 2 min infusion with a two-headed SPECT system rotating 180° every 54 s can produce measurements of blood pool and myocardial TACs, though the SPECT simulation studies showed that one must sample at least every 30 s to capture a 1 min infusion input function.
Objective—To investigate the relations between myocardial metabolism and the kinetics of thallium-201 in myocardial scintigraphy.
Methods—46 patients within six weeks after the onset of acute myocardial infarction underwent resting myocardial dual isotope, single acquisition, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) using radioiodinated 15-iodophenyl 3-methyl pentadecaenoic acid (BMIPP) and thallium-201, exercise thallium-201 SPECT, and positron emission tomography (PET) using nitrogen-13 ammonia (NH3) and [F18]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) under fasting conditions. The left ventricle was divided into nine segments, and the severity of defects was assessed visually.
Results—In the resting SPECT, less BMIPP uptake than thallium-201 uptake was observed in all of 40 segments with reverse redistribution of thallium-201, and in 21 of 88 segments with a fixed defect of thallium-201 (p < 0.0001); and more FDG uptake than NH3 uptake (NH3-FDG mismatch) was observed in 35 of 40 segments with reverse redistribution and in 38 of 88 segments with fixed defect (p < 0.0001). Less BMIPP uptake in the resting SPECT was observed in 49 of 54 segments with slow stress redistribution in exercise SPECT, and in nine of 17 segments with rapid stress redistribution (p < 0.0005); NH3-FDG mismatch was observed in 42 of 54 segments with slow stress redistribution and in five of 17 segments with rapid stress redistribution (p < 0.0005).
Conclusions—Thallium-201 myocardial scintigraphy provides information about not only myocardial perfusion and viability but also about myocardial metabolism in patients with acute myocardial infarction.
Keywords: thallium-201 SPECT; BMIPP SPECT; FDG PET; myocardial infarction; redistribution
With single-photon emission computed tomography, simultaneous imaging of two physiological processes relies on discrimination of the energy of the emitted gamma rays, whereas the application of dual-tracer imaging to positron emission tomography (PET) imaging has been limited by the characteristic 511-keV emissions.
To address this limitation, we developed a novel approach based on generalized factor analysis of dynamic sequences (GFADS) that exploits spatio-temporal differences between radiotracers and applied it to near-simultaneous imaging of 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) (brain metabolism) and 11C-raclopride (D2) with simulated human data and experimental rhesus monkey data. We show theoretically and verify by simulation and measurement that GFADS can separate FDG and raclopride measurements that are made nearly simultaneously.
The theoretical development shows that GFADS can decompose the studies at several levels: (1) It decomposes the FDG and raclopride study so that they can be analyzed as though they were obtained separately. (2) If additional physiologic/anatomic constraints can be imposed, further decomposition is possible. (3) For the example of raclopride, specific and nonspecific binding can be determined on a pixel-by-pixel basis. We found good agreement between the estimated GFADS factors and the simulated ground truth time activity curves (TACs), and between the GFADS factor images and the corresponding ground truth activity distributions with errors less than 7.3±1.3 %. Biases in estimation of specific D2 binding and relative metabolism activity were within 5.9±3.6 % compared to the ground truth values. We also evaluated our approach in simultaneous dual-isotope brain PET studies in a rhesus monkey and obtained accuracy of better than 6 % in a mid-striatal volume, for striatal activity estimation.
Dynamic image sequences acquired following near-simultaneous injection of two PET radiopharmaceuticals can be separated into components based on the differences in the kinetics, provided their kinetic behaviors are distinct.
Dynamic PET; Quantitation; Brain imaging
Epilepsy surgery is highly effective in treating refractory epilepsy, but requires accurate presurgical localization of the epileptogenic focus. Briefly, localization of the region of seizure onset traditionally dependents on seizure semiology, scalp EEG recordings and correlation with anatomical imaging modalities such as MRI. The introduction of noninvasive functional neuroimaging methods, including single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) has dramatically changed the method for presurgical epilepsy evaluation. These imaging modalities have become powerful tools for the investigation of brain function and are an essential part of the evaluation of epileptic patients. Of these methods, SPECT has the practical capacity to image blood flow functional changes that occur during seizures in the routine clinical setting. In this review we present the basic principles of epilepsy SPECT and PET imaging. We discuss the properties of the SPECT tracers to be used for this purpose and imaging acquisition protocols as well as the diagnostic performance of SPECT in addition to SPECT image analysis methods. This is followed by a discussion and comparison to F-18 FDG PET acquisition and imaging analysis methods.
Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with fluorine-18 (18F) Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and flow tracer such as Rubidium-82 (82Rb) is an established method for evaluating an ischemic but viable myocardium. However, the high cost of PET imaging restricts its wider clinical use. Therefore, less expensive 18F FDG single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging has been considered as an alternative to 18F FDG PET imaging. The purpose of the work is to compare SPECT with PET in myocardial perfusion/viability imaging.
A nonuniform RH-2 thorax-heart phantom was used in the SPECT and PET acquisitions. Three inserts, 3 cm, 2 cm and 1 cm in diameter, were placed in the left ventricular (LV) wall to simulate infarcts. The phantom acquisition was performed sequentially with 7.4 MBq of 18F and 22.2 MBq of Technetium-99m (99mTc) in the SPECT study and with 7.4 MBq of 18F and 370 MBq of 82Rb in the PET study. SPECT and PET data were processed using standard reconstruction software provided by vendors. Circumferential profiles of the short-axis slices, the contrast and viability of the inserts were used to evaluate the SPECT and PET images.
The contrast for 3 cm, 2 cm and 1 cm inserts were for 18F PET data, 1.0 ± 0.01, 0.67 ± 0.02 and 0.25 ± 0.01, respectively. For 82Rb PET data, the corresponding contrast values were 0.61 ± 0.02, 0.37 ± 0.02 and 0.19 ± 0.01, respectively. For 18F SPECT the contrast values were, 0.31 ± 0.03 and 0.20 ± 0.05 for 3 cm and 2 cm inserts, respectively. For 99mTc SPECT the contrast values were, 0.63 ± 0.04 and 0.24 ± 0.05 for 3 cm and 2 cm inserts respectively. In SPECT, the 1 cm insert was not detectable. In the SPECT study, all three inserts were falsely diagnosed as "viable", while in the PET study, only the 1 cm insert was diagnosed falsely "viable".
For smaller defects the 99mTc/18F SPECT imaging cannot entirely replace the more expensive 82Rb/18F PET for myocardial perfusion/viability imaging, due to poorer image spatial resolution and poorer defect contrast.
Molecular imaging (MI) may be defined as imaging in vivo using molecules that report on biologic function. This review will focus on the clinical use of radioactive tracers (nonpharmacologic amounts of compounds labeled with a radioactive substance) that permit external imaging using single photon emission computed tomography (planar, SPECT) or positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. Imaging of lung cancer has been revolutionized with the use of fluorine-18–labeled fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG), an analog of glucose that can be imaged using PET. The ability to carry out whole body imaging after intravenous injection of 18F-FDG allows accurate staging of disease, helping to determine regional and distant nodal and other parenchymal involvement. Glycolysis is increased in nonmalignant conditions, including inflammation (e.g., sarcoidosis), and 18F-FDG PET is a sensitive method for evaluation of active inflammatory disease. Inflammatory disease has been imaged, even before the advent of PET, with planar and SPECT imaging using gallium-67, a radiometal that binds to transferrin. Metabolic alteration in pulmonary pathology is currently being studied, largely in lung cancer, primarily with PET, with a variety of other radiotracers. Prominent among these is thymidine; fluorine-18–labeled thymidine PET is being increasingly used to evaluate proliferation rate in lung and other cancers. This overview will focus on the clinical utility of 18F-FDG PET in the staging and therapy evaluation of lung cancer as well as in imaging of nonmalignant pulmonary conditions. PET and SPECT imaging with other radiotracers of interest will also be reviewed. Future directions in PET imaging of pulmonary pathophysiology will also be explored.
SPECT; PET; radiolabeled ligands; cancer; infection
Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) research relies increasingly on small animal models and noninvasive imaging methods such as MRI, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and positron emission tomography (PET). However, a direct comparison among these techniques for characterization of perfusion, viability, and infarct size is lacking. Rats were studied within 18–24 hr post AMI by MRI (4.7 T) and subsequently (40–48 hr post AMI) by SPECT (99Tc-MIBI) and micro-PET (18FDG). A necrosis-specific MRI contrast agent was used to detect AMI, and a fast low angle shot (FLASH) sequence was used to acquire late enhancement and functional images contemporaneously. Infarcted regions showed late enhancement, whereas corresponding radionuclide images had reduced tracer uptake. MRI most accurately depicted AMI, showing the closest correlation and agreement with triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC), followed by SPECT and PET. In some animals a mismatch of reduced uptake in normal myocardium and relatively increased 18FDG uptake in the infarct border zone precluded conventional quantitative analysis. We performed the first quantitative comparison of MRI, PET, and SPECT for reperfused AMI imaging in a small animal model. MRI was superior to the other modalities, due to its greater spatial resolution and ability to detect necrotic myocardium directly. The observed 18FDG mismatch likely represents variable metabolic conditions between stunned myocardium in the infarct border zone and normal myocardium and supports the use of a standardized glucose load or glucose clamp technique for PET imaging of reperfused AMI in small animals.
myocardial infarction; imaging; MR; SPECT; PET
Positron emission tomography (PET) has become one of the major tools for the in vivo localisation of positron-emitting tracers and now is performed routinely using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) to answer important clinical questions including those in cardiology, neurology, psychiatry, and oncology. The latter application contributed largely to the wide acceptance of this imaging modality and its use in clinical diagnosis, staging, restaging, and assessment of tumour response to treatment. Dual-modality PET/CT systems have been operational for almost a decade since their inception. The complementarity between anatomic (CT) and functional or metabolic (PET) information provided in a “one-stop shop” has been the driving force of this technology. Although combined anato-metabolic imaging is an obvious choice, the way to perform imaging is still an open issue. The tracers or combinations of tracers to be used, how the imaging should be done, when contrast-enhanced CT should be performed, what are the optimal acquisition and processing protocols, are all unanswered questions. Moreover, each data acquisition–processing combination may need to be independently optimised and validated. This paper briefly reviews the basic principles of dual-modality imaging and addresses some of the practical issues involved in optimising PET/CT scanning protocols in a clinical environment.
PET/CT; data acquisition; protocol; data processing; optimisation
Brain-mapping techniques have proven to be vital in understanding the molecular, cellular, and functional mechanisms of recovery after stroke. This article briefly summarizes the current molecular and functional concepts of stroke recovery and addresses how various neuroimaging techniques can be used to observe these changes. The authors provide an overview of various techniques including diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), ligand-based positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and regional metabolic rate of glucose (rCMRglc) PET and SPECT, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Discussion in the context of poststroke recovery research informs about the applications and limitations of the techniques in the area of rehabilitation research. The authors also provide suggestions on using these techniques in tandem to more thoroughly address the outstanding questions in the field.
DTI; EEG; fMRI; MEG; NIRS; PET; poststroke recovery; rehabilitation; SPECT; stroke; TMS
In recent years, the development of positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging has enhanced our understanding of the physiological functioning of the intact brain.
To study cerebral cortical perfusion defects in patients with childhood onset schizophrenia (COS) and to assess their neuropsychological functioning.
This cross-sectional study comprised 14 patients with COS with onset at or before 14 years of age, diagnosed as per ICD-10 DCR criteria, attending a tertiary care centre in North India. All the patients were assessed on sociodemographic, clinical profile sheet, Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS) and Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (EHI). The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) was used to assess their neuropsychological functioning. All patients underwent SPECT. A control group of 10 healthy subjects was studied with SPECT for comparison.
Nine patients (64.3%) showed perfusion anomaly on SPECT scan specifically in the left temporal and frontal areas of the brain. On WCST score these 9 patients showed a higher percentage of total errors (64.49%±9.42%) as compared to the other 5 patients (48.54%±12.70%) who showed no abnormality on SPECT scan. All normal control subjects showed no abnormality on SPECT.
The results from WCST show that COS patients have difficulty in executive functioning. Also, patients had perfusion anomaly in the left temporal, frontal and parietal areas. Deficits found in COS are similar to those found in adult onset schizophrenia (AOS). In view of the findings, the nature of COS and its relationship with AOS are discussed.
Childhood onset schizophrenia; SPECT; schizophrenia
Patient management in oncology increasingly relies upon imaging for diagnosis, response assessment, and follow-up. The clinical availability of combined functional-anatomic imaging modalities, which integrate the benefits of visualizing tumor biology with those of high-resolution structural imaging, revolutionized clinical management of oncologic patients.[1–6] Conventional high resolution anatomic imaging modalities such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) excel at providing details regarding lesion location, size, morphology, and structural changes to adjacent tissues; however, these modalities provide little insight into tumor physiology. With the increasing focus on molecularly targeted therapies, imaging radiolabeled compounds with positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission tomography (SPECT) are often used to provide insight into a tumor's biologic functions and its surrounding microenvironment. Despite their high sensitivity and specificity, PET and SPECT alone are substantially limited by low spatial resolution and inability to provide anatomic detail. Integrating SPECT or PET with a modality capable of providing these (i.e. CT or MR) maximizes their separate strengths and provides anatomic localization of physiologic processes with detailed visualization of a tumor's structure. The availability of multi-modality (hybrid) imaging with PET/CT, SPECT/CT and PET/MR improves our ability to characterize lesions and to affect treatment decisions and patient management. We have just begun to exploit the truly synergistic capabilities of multi-modality imaging. Continued advances in instrumentation and imaging agent development will improve our ability to noninvasively characterize disease processes. This review will discuss the evolution of hybrid imaging technology and provide examples of its current and potential future clinical uses.
Multimodality imaging; PET/CT; SPECT/CT; MR/PET
Blood flow interruption in a cerebral artery causes brain ischemia and induces dramatic changes of perfusion and metabolism in the corresponding territory. We performed in parallel positron emission tomography (PET) with [15O]H2O, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with [99mTc]hexamethylpropylene-amino-oxime ([99mTc]HMPAO) and ultrasonic ultrafast shear wave imaging (SWI) during, immediately after, and 1, 2, 4, and 7 days after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in rats. Positron emission tomography and SPECT showed initial hypoperfusion followed by recovery at immediate reperfusion, hypoperfusion at day 1, and hyperperfusion at days 4 to 7. Hyperperfusion interested the whole brain, including nonischemic areas. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated active angiogenesis at days 2 to 7, strongly suggestive that hyperperfusion was supported by an increase in microvessel density in both brain hemispheres after ischemia. The SWI detected elastic changes of cerebral tissue in the ischemic area as early as day 1 after MCAO appearing as a softening of cerebral tissue whose local internal elasticity decreased continuously from day 1 to 7. Taken together, these results suggest that hyperperfusion after cerebral ischemia is due to formation of neovessels, and indicate that brain softening is an early and continuous process. The SWI is a promising novel imaging method for monitoring the evolution of cerebral ischemia over time in animals.
middle cerebral artery occlusion; PET; shear wave imaging; SPECT; stroke; ultrasound
OBJECTIVE—To determine whether, compared with fundamental imaging, second harmonic imaging can improve the accuracy of dobutamine stress echocardiography for identifying viable myocardium, using nuclear imaging as a reference.
PATIENTS—30 patients with chronic left ventricular dysfunction (mean (SD) age, 60 (8) years; 22 men).
METHODS—Dobutamine stress echocardiography was carried out in all patients using both fundamental and second harmonic imaging. All patients underwent dual isotope simultaneous acquisition single photon emission computed tomography (DISA-SPECT) with 99mtechnetium-tetrofosmin/18F-fluorodeoxyglucose on a separate day. Myocardial viability was considered present by dobutamine stress echocardiography when segments with severe dysfunction showed a biphasic sustained improvement or an ischaemic response. Viability criteria on DISA-SPECT were normal or mildly reduced perfusion and metabolism, or perfusion/metabolism mismatch.
RESULTS—Using fundamental imaging, 330 segments showed severe dysfunction at baseline; 144 (44%) were considered viable. The agreement between dobutamine stress echocardiography by fundamental imaging and DISA-SPECT was 78%, κ = 0.56. Using second harmonic imaging, 288 segments showed severe dysfunction; 138 (48%) were viable. The agreement between dobutamine stress echocardiography and DISA-SPECT was significantly better when second harmonic imaging was used (89%, κ = 0.77, p = 0.001 v fundamental imaging).
CONCLUSIONS—Second harmonic imaging applied during dobutamine stress echocardiography increases the agreement with DISA-SPECT for detecting myocardial viability.
Keywords: dobutamine stress echocardiography; second harmonic imaging; 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose imaging; myocardial viability
Rapid multi-tracer PET aims to image two or more tracers in a single scan, simultaneously characterizing multiple aspects of physiology and function without the need for repeat imaging visits. Using dynamic imaging with staggered injections, constraints on the kinetic behavior of each tracer are applied to recover individual-tracer measures from the multi-tracer PET signal. The ability to rapidly and reliably image both 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and 18F-fluorothymidine (FLT) would provide complementary measures of tumor metabolism and proliferative activity, with important applications in guiding oncologic treatment decisions and assessing response. However, this tracer combination presents one of the most challenging dual-tracer signal-separation problems—both tracers have the same radioactive half-life, and the injection delay is short relative to the half-life and tracer kinetics. This work investigates techniques for single-scan dual-tracer FLT+FDG PET tumor imaging, characterizing the performance of recovering static and dynamic imaging measures for each tracer from dual-tracer datasets. Simulation studies were performed to characterize dual-tracer signal-separation performance for imaging protocols with both injection orders and injection delays of 10–60 min. Better performance was observed when FLT was administered first, and longer delays before administration of FDG provided more robust signal-separation and recovery of the single-tracer imaging measures. An injection delay of 30 min led to good recovery (R > 0.96) of static image values (e.g. SUV), Knet, and K1 as compared to values from separate, single-tracer time-activity curves. Recovery of higher order rate parameters (k2, k3) was less robust, indicating that information regarding these parameters was harder to recover in the presence of statistical noise and dual-tracer effects. Performance of the dual-tracer FLT(0 min)+FDG(32 min) technique was further evaluated using PET/CT imaging studies in five patients with primary brain tumors where the data from separate scans of each tracer were combined to synthesize dual-tracer scans with known single-tracer components; results demonstrated similar dual-tracer signal recovery performance. We conclude that rapid dual-tracer FLT+FDG tumor imaging is feasible and can provide quantitative tumor imaging measures comparable to those from conventional separate-scan imaging.
Molecular imaging has witnessed a tremendous change over the last decade. Growing interest and emphasis are placed on this specialized technology represented by developing new scanners, pharmaceutical drugs, diagnostic agents, new therapeutic regimens, and ultimately, significant improvement of patient health care. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) have their signature on paving the way to molecular diagnostics and personalized medicine. The former will be the topic of the current paper where the authors address the current position of the molecular SPECT imaging among other imaging techniques, describing strengths and weaknesses, differences between SPECT and PET, and focusing on different SPECT designs and detection systems. Radiopharmaceutical compounds of clinical as well-preclinical interest have also been reviewed. Moreover, the last section covers several application, of μSPECT imaging in many areas of disease detection and diagnosis.
In simultaneous dual-isotope myocardial perfusion SPECT (MPS) imaging, data are simultaneously acquired to determine the distributions of two radioactive isotopes. The goal of this work was to develop penalized maximum likelihood (PML) algorithms for a novel cross-tracer prior that exploits the fact that the two images reconstructed from simultaneous dual-isotope MPS projection data are perfectly registered in space. We first formulated the simultaneous dual-isotope MPS reconstruction problem as a joint estimation problem. A cross-tracer prior that couples voxel values on both images was then proposed. We developed an iterative algorithm to reconstruct the MPS images that converges to the maximum a posteriori solution for this prior based on separable surrogate functions. To accelerate the convergence, we developed a fast algorithm for the cross-tracer prior based on the complete data OS-EM (COSEM) framework. The proposed algorithm was compared qualitatively and quantitatively to a single-tracer version of the prior that did not include the cross-tracer term. Quantitative evaluations included comparisons of mean and standard deviation images as well as assessment of image fidelity using the mean square error. We also evaluated the cross tracer prior using a three-class observer study with respect to the three-class MPS diagnostic task, i.e., classifying patients as having either no defect, reversible defect, or fixed defects. For this study, a comparison with conventional ordered subsets-expectation maximization (OS-EM) reconstruction with postfiltering was performed. The comparisons to the single-tracer prior demonstrated similar resolution for areas of the image with large intensity changes and reduced noise in uniform regions. The cross-tracer prior was also superior to the single-tracer version in terms of restoring image fidelity. Results of the three-class observer study showed that the proposed cross-tracer prior and the convergent algorithms improved the image quality of dual-isotope MPS images compared to OS-EM.
Dual isotope imaging; emission computed tomography; joint estimation; maximum a posteriori (MAP) reconstruction
P-glycoprotein (P-gp), an efflux transporter, controls the pharmacokinetics of various compounds under physiological conditions. P-gp-mediated drug efflux has been suggested as playing a role in various disorders, including multidrug-resistant cancer and medication-refractory epilepsy. However, P-gp inhibition has had, to date, little or no clinically significant effect in multidrug-resistant cancer. To enhance our understanding of its in vivo function under pathophysiological conditions, substrates of P-gp have been radiolabeled and imaged using single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET). To accurately quantify P-gp function, a radiolabeled P-gp substrate should be selective for P-gp, produce a large signal after P-gp blockade, and generate few radiometabolites that enter the target tissue. Furthermore, quantification of P-gp function via imaging requires pharmacological inhibition of P-gp, which requires knowledge of P-gp density at the target site. By meeting these criteria, imaging can elucidate the function of P-gp in various disorders and improve the efficacy of treatments.
The acronym THERANOSTICS epitomizes the inseparability of diagnosis and therapy, the pillars of medicine and takes into account personalized management of disease for a specific patient. Molecular phenotypes of neoplasms can be determined by molecular imaging with specific probes using positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or optical methods, so that the treatment is specifically targeted against the tumor and its environment. To meet these demands, we need to define the targets, ligands, coupling and labeling chemistry, the most appropriate radionuclides, biodistribution modifiers, and finally select the right patients for the personalized treatment. THERANOSTICS of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) using Ga-68 labeled tracers for diagnostics with positron emission tomography/ computed tomography (PET/CT), and using Lu-177 or other metallic radionuclides for radionuclide therapy by applying the same peptide proves that personalized radionuclide therapy today is already a fact and not a fiction.
THERANOSTICS; molecular imaging; personalized radionuclide therapy.
A dilemma in behavioral brain mapping is that conventional techniques immobilize the subject, extinguishing all but the simplest behaviors. This is avoided if brain activation is imaged after completion of the behavior and tissue capture of the tracer. A single-pass flow tracer proposed for positron emission tomography (PET) is a radiolabeled copper(II) complex of pyruvaldehyde bis(N4-methylthiosemicarbazone), [Cu64]-PTSM. [Cu64]-PTSM reaches steady-state cerebral distribution more rapidly than the metabolic tracer [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose, allowing imaging with substantially greater temporal resolution. Using dual-label autoradiography, this study compares the relative regional cerebral blood flow tracer distribution (CBF-TR) of [64Cu]-PTSM to that of the classic perfusion tracer [14C]-iodoantipyrine in a rat model during treadmill walking. Rats were exposed to continuous walking on a treadmill and compared to quiescent controls. [64Cu]-PTSM was bolus injected (iv) after 1 minute, followed by a 5 minute uptake and subsequent bolus injection of [14C]-iodoantipyrine. CBF-TR was quantified by autoradiography and analyzed in the three-dimensionally reconstructed brain by statistical parametric mapping, as well as by region-of-interest analysis. A high homology was found between the [64Cu]-PTSM and [14C]-iodoantipyrine patterns of cerebral activation in cortical and subcortical regions. For white matter, however, [64Cu]-PTSM showed lower perfusion than [14Cu]-iodoantipyrine. [64Cu]-PTSM is a useful tracer for functional brain mapping in freely-moving subjects. Its application in conjunction with PET promises to increase our understanding of the neural circuitry of behaviors dependent on locomotion.
Meningiomas arise from the meningothelial cells of the arachnoid membranes. They are the most common primary intracranial neoplasms and represent about 20% of all intracranial tumors. They are usually diagnosed after the third decade of life and they are more frequent in women than in men. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria, meningiomas can be classified into grade I meningiomas, which are benign, grade II (atypical) and grade III (anaplastic) meningiomas, which have a much more aggressive clinical behaviour. Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are routinely used in the diagnostic workup of patients with meningiomas. Molecular Nuclear Medicine Imaging with Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) could provide complementary information to CT and MRI. Various SPECT and PET tracers may provide information about cellular processes and biological characteristics of meningiomas. Therefore, SPECT and PET imaging could be used for the preoperative noninvasive diagnosis and differential diagnosis of meningiomas, prediction of tumor grade and tumor recurrence, response to treatment, target volume delineation for radiation therapy planning, and distinction between residual or recurrent tumour from scar tissue.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Computed Tomography (CT), PET/CT and Single Photon Emission Tomography (SPECT) are non-invasive imaging tools used for creating two dimensional (2D) cross section images of three dimensional (3D) objects. PET and SPECT have the potential of providing functional or biochemical information by measuring distribution and kinetics of radiolabelled molecules, whereas CT visualizes X-ray density in tissues in the body. PET/CT provides fused images representing both functional and anatomical information with better precision in localization than PET alone.
Images generated by these types of techniques are generally noisy, thereby impairing the imaging potential and affecting the precision in quantitative values derived from the images. It is crucial to explore and understand the properties of noise in these imaging techniques. Here we used autocorrelation function (ACF) specifically to describe noise correlation and its non-isotropic behaviour in experimentally generated images of PET, CT, PET/CT and SPECT.
Experiments were performed using phantoms with different shapes. In PET and PET/CT studies, data were acquired in 2D acquisition mode and reconstructed by both analytical filter back projection (FBP) and iterative, ordered subsets expectation maximisation (OSEM) methods. In the PET/CT studies, different magnitudes of X-ray dose in the transmission were employed by using different mA settings for the X-ray tube. In the CT studies, data were acquired using different slice thickness with and without applied dose reduction function and the images were reconstructed by FBP. SPECT studies were performed in 2D, reconstructed using FBP and OSEM, using post 3D filtering. ACF images were generated from the primary images, and profiles across the ACF images were used to describe the noise correlation in different directions. The variance of noise across the images was visualised as images and with profiles across these images.
The most important finding was that the pattern of noise correlation is rotation symmetric or isotropic, independent of object shape in PET and PET/CT images reconstructed using the iterative method. This is, however, not the case in FBP images when the shape of phantom is not circular. Also CT images reconstructed using FBP show the same non-isotropic pattern independent of slice thickness and utilization of care dose function. SPECT images show an isotropic correlation of the noise independent of object shape or applied reconstruction algorithm. Noise in PET/CT images was identical independent of the applied X-ray dose in the transmission part (CT), indicating that the noise from transmission with the applied doses does not propagate into the PET images showing that the noise from the emission part is dominant. The results indicate that in human studies it is possible to utilize a low dose in transmission part while maintaining the noise behaviour and the quality of the images.
The combined effect of noise correlation for asymmetric objects and a varying noise variance across the image field significantly complicates the interpretation of the images when statistical methods are used, such as with statistical estimates of precision in average values, use of statistical parametric mapping methods and principal component analysis. Hence it is recommended that iterative reconstruction methods are used for such applications. However, it is possible to calculate the noise analytically in images reconstructed by FBP, while it is not possible to do the same calculation in images reconstructed by iterative methods. Therefore for performing statistical methods of analysis which depend on knowing the noise, FBP would be preferred.
Accurate and reproducible SPECT quantification of myocardial molecular processes remains a challenge because of the complication of heterogeneous background and extracardiac activity adjacent to the heart, which causes errors in the estimation of myocardial focal tracer uptake. Our aim in this study was to introduce a heuristic method for the correction of extracardiac activity into SPECT quantification and validate the modified quantification method for accuracy and reproducibility using a canine model.
Dual-isotope–targeted 99mTc and 201Tl perfusion SPECT images were acquired using a hybrid SPECT/CT camera in 6 dogs at 2 wk after myocardial infarction. Images were reconstructed with and without CT-based attenuation correction, and the reconstructed SPECT images were filtered and quantified simultaneously with incorporation of extracardiac radioactivity correction, gaussian fitting, and total-count sampling. Absolute myocardial focal tracer uptake was quantified from SPECT images using 3 different normal limits (maximum entropy [ME], mean-squared-error minimization [MSEM], and global minimum [GM]). SPECT-quantified percentage injected dose (%ID) was calculated and compared with the well-counted radioactivity measured from the postmortem myocardial tissue. SPECT quantitative processing was performed by 2 different individuals with extensive experience in cardiac image processing, to assess reproducibility of the quantitative analysis.
Correlations between SPECT-quantified and well-counted %IDs using 3 different normal limits were excellent (ME: r = 0.82, y = 0.932x − 0.0102; MSEM: r = 0.73, y = 1.1413x − 0.0052; and GM: r = 0.7, y = 1.2147x − 0.0002). SPECT quantification using ME normal limits resulted in an underestimation of %ID, as compared with well-counted %ID. Myocardial focal tracer uptake quantified from SPECT images without CT-based attenuation correction was significantly lower than that with the attenuation correction. The %IDs quantified from attenuation-corrected SPECT images using MSEM and GM normal limits were not significantly different from well-counted %IDs. Reproducibility of the SPECT quantitative analysis was excellent (ME: r = 0.98, y = 0.9221x + 0.0001; MSEM: r = 0.97, y = 0.9357x + 0.0004; and GM: r = 0.96, y = 0.9026x + 0.001).
Our SPECT/CT quantification algorithm for the assessment of regional radioactivity may allow for accurate and reproducible serial noninvasive evaluation of molecularly targeted tracers in the myocardium.
SPECT/CT; dual-isotope imaging; hot spot quantification; molecularly targeted cardiac imaging
Preclinical cardiovascular research using noninvasive radionuclide and hybrid imaging systems has been extensively developed in recent years. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is based on the molecular tracer principle and is an established tool in noninvasive imaging. SPECT uses gamma cameras and collimators to form projection data that are used to estimate (dynamic) 3-D tracer distributions in vivo. Recent developments in multipinhole collimation and advanced image reconstruction have led to sub-millimetre and sub-half-millimetre resolution SPECT in rats and mice, respectively. In this article we review applications of microSPECT in cardiovascular research in which information about the function and pathology of the myocardium, vessels and neurons is obtained. We give examples on how diagnostic tracers, new therapeutic interventions, pre- and postcardiovascular event prognosis, and functional and pathophysiological heart conditions can be explored by microSPECT, using small-animal models of cardiovascular disease.
microSPECT; microSPECT/CT; Cardiovascular imaging