Graphical analysis of PET data applied to reversible and irreversible tracers

Nucl Med Biol. 2000 Oct;27(7):661-70. doi: 10.1016/s0969-8051(00)00137-2.


The differential equations of compartmental analysis form the basis of the models describing the uptake of tracers used in imaging studies. Graphical analyses convert the model equations into linear plots, the slopes of which represent measures of tracer binding. The graphical methods are not dependent upon a particular model structure but the slopes can be related to combinations of the model parameters if a model structure is assumed. The input required is uptake data from a region of interest vs time and an input function that can either be plasma measurements or uptake data from a suitable reference region. Graphical methods can be applied to both reversible and irreversibly binding tracers. They provide considerable ease of computation compared to the optimization of individual model parameters in the solution of the differential equations generally used to describe the binding of tracers. Conditions under which the graphical techniques are applicable and some problems encountered in separating tracer delivery and binding are considered. Also the effect of noise can introduce a bias in the distribution volume which is the slope of the graphical analysis of reversible tracers. Smoothing techniques may minimize this problem and retain the model independence. In any case graphical techniques can provide insight into the binding kinetics of tracers in a visual way.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / blood
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / analysis
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Receptors, Cell Surface