Effects of shortened acquisition time on accuracy and precision of quantitative estimates of organ activity

Bin He, Eric C. Frey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: Quantitative estimation of in vivo organ uptake is an essential part of treatment planning for targeted radionuclide therapy. This usually involves the use of planar or SPECT scans with acquisition times chosen based more on image quality considerations rather than the minimum needed for precise quantification. In previous simulation studies at clinical count levels (185 MBq I 111 n), the authors observed larger variations in accuracy of organ activity estimates resulting from anatomical and uptake differences than statistical noise. This suggests that it is possible to reduce the acquisition time without substantially increasing the variation in accuracy. Methods: To test this hypothesis, the authors compared the accuracy and variation in accuracy of organ activity estimates obtained from planar and SPECT scans at various count levels. A simulated phantom population with realistic variations in anatomy and biodistribution was used to model variability in a patient population. Planar and SPECT projections were simulated using previously validated Monte Carlo simulation tools. The authors simulated the projections at count levels approximately corresponding to 1.5-30 min of total acquisition time. The projections were processed using previously described quantitative SPECT (QSPECT) and planar (QPlanar) methods. The QSPECT method was based on the OS-EM algorithm with compensations for attenuation, scatter, and collimator-detector response. The QPlanar method is based on the ML-EM algorithm using the same model-based compensation for all the image degrading effects as the QSPECT method. The volumes of interests (VOIs) were defined based on the true organ configuration in the phantoms. The errors in organ activity estimates from different count levels and processing methods were compared in terms of mean and standard deviation over the simulated phantom population. Results: There was little degradation in quantitative reliability when the acquisition time was reduced by half for the QSPECT method (the mean error changed by <1%, e.g., 0.9%-0.3%=0.6% for the spleen). The magnitude of the errors and variations in errors for large organ with high uptake were still acceptable for 1.5 min scans, even though the errors were slightly larger than those for the 30 min scans (i.e., <2% for liver, <3% for heart). The errors over the ranges of scan times studied for the QPlanar method were all within 0.3% for all organs. Conclusions: These data indicate that, for the purposes of organ activity estimation, acquisition times could be reduced at least by a factor of 2 for the QSPECT and QPlanar methods with little effect on the errors in organ activity estimates. The acquisition time can be further reduced for the QPlanar method, assuming well-registered VOIs are available and the activity distribution in organs can be treated as uniform. Although the differences in accuracy and precision were statistically significant for all the acquisition times shorter than 30 min, the magnitude of the changes in accuracy and precision were small and likely not clinically important. The reduction in SPECT acquisition time justified by this study makes the use of SPECT a more clinically practical alternative to conventional planar scanning for targeted radiotherapy treatment planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1807-1815
Number of pages9
JournalMedical physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Absolute quantitation
  • Quantitative SPECT
  • Quantitative planar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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