Diagnostic imaging (ionizing and non-ionizing)
Quantitatively accurate activity measurements with a dedicated cardiac SPECT camera: Physical phantom experiments
Recently, there has been increased interest in dedicated cardiac single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scanners with pinhole collimation and improved detector technology due to their improved count sensitivity and resolution over traditional parallel-hole cameras. With traditional cameras, energy-based approaches are often used in the clinic for scatter compensation because they are fast and easily implemented. Some of the cardiac cameras use cadmium-zinc-telluride (CZT) detectors which can complicate the use of energy-based scatter correction (SC) due to the low-energy tail—an increased number of unscattered photons detected with reduced energy. Modified energy-based scatter correction methods can be implemented, but their level of accuracy is unclear. In this study, the authors validated by physical phantom experiments the quantitative accuracy and reproducibility of easily implemented correction techniques applied to 99mTc myocardial imaging with a CZT-detector-based gamma camera with multiple heads, each with a single-pinhole collimator.
Activity in the cardiac compartment of an Anthropomorphic Torso phantom (Data Spectrum Corporation) was measured through 15 99mTc-SPECT acquisitions. The ratio of activity concentrations in organ compartments resembled a clinical 99mTc-sestamibi scan and was kept consistent across all experiments (1.2:1 heart to liver and 1.5:1 heart to lung). Two background activity levels were considered: no activity (cold) and an activity concentration 1/10th of the heart (hot). A plastic “lesion” was placed inside of the septal wall of the myocardial insert to simulate the presence of a region without tracer uptake and contrast in this lesion was calculated for all images. The true net activity in each compartment was measured with a dose calibrator (CRC-25R, Capintec, Inc.). A 10 min SPECT image was acquired using a dedicated cardiac camera with CZT detectors (Discovery NM530c, GE Healthcare), followed by a CT scan for attenuation correction (AC). For each experiment, separate images were created including reconstruction with no corrections (NC), with AC, with attenuation and dual-energy window (DEW) scatter correction (ACSC), with attenuation and partial volume correction (PVC) applied (ACPVC), and with attenuation, scatter, and PVC applied (ACSCPVC). The DEW SC method used was modified to account for the presence of the low-energy tail.
T-tests showed that the mean error in absolute activity measurement was reduced significantly for AC and ACSC compared to NC for both (hot and cold) datasets (p < 0.001) and that ACSC, ACPVC, and ACSCPVC show significant reductions in mean differences compared to AC (p ≤ 0.001) without increasing the uncertainty (p > 0.4). The effect of SC and PVC was significant in reducing errors over AC in both datasets (p < 0.001 and p < 0.01, respectively), resulting in a mean error of 5% ± 4%.
Quantitative measurements of cardiac 99mTc activity are achievable using attenuation and scatter corrections, with the authors' dedicated cardiac SPECT camera. Partial volume corrections offer improvements in measurement accuracy in AC images and ACSC images with elevated background activity; however, these improvements are not significant in ACSC images with low background activity.