Noncardiac findings on dual-isotope myocardial perfusion SPECT

J Nucl Cardiol. 2003 Jul-Aug;10(4):395-402. doi: 10.1016/s1071-3581(03)00524-5.


Background: This study examined the frequency of reporting noncardiac findings (NCFs), such as malignancies from inspection of raw projection images with dual-isotope single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) perfusion imaging, which could potentially be of greater clinical importance than myocardial perfusion imaging alone. Dual-isotope (ie, rest thallium 201 and stress technetium 99m sestamibi [MIBI] or Tc-99m tetrofosmin [TET]) SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging combines multipotential tracers for noncardiac purposes (Tl-201 for renal or splenic imaging, inflammation, or lymphoma and MIBI or TET for hepatobiliary imaging and detecting increased mitochondrial number or activity in neoplastic processes). These images are optimally interpreted with cinematic inspection of the raw projection data, but this may not be practiced uniformly in every laboratory.

Methods and results: We reviewed 12,526 computer-generated text reports of dual-isotope perfusion SPECT studies from a 6-year period for NCFs. NCFs were categorized by organ and by probability of malignancy: high (eg, focal breast or lung uptake of MIBI or TET), intermediate (eg, lymph node uptake or thyroid abnormalities), or low (eg, filling defects in liver, kidney, spleen, or gall bladder; ascites; or pleural effusions). Confirmatory imaging studies or clinical confirmation for each NCF was sought. There were a total of 207 NCFs identified in 180 reports (1.7% of reports, ranging from 0% to 2.8% of reports of individual interpreters). Of these, 107 NCFs were unsuspected before SPECT; 24% were considered at high probability for malignancy, and 24% were considered intermediate in likelihood of malignancy. Follow-up data were available for 178 NCFs, confirming 88% of these findings, including 82% of breast foci, 62% of lung foci, 86% of hepatobiliary/spleen abnormalities, and 94% of renal abnormalities. The probability of malignancy was highest (82%) in breast or lung foci in which uptake of both Tl-201 and the Tc-99m-labeled agent was present.

Conclusions: In patients referred for evaluation of myocardial perfusion, NCFs are unusual and require systematic and careful inspection of projection images for their detection. With Tl-201, TET, MIBI, or dual-isotope imaging, detecting and reporting NCFs may occasionally result in life-saving early cancer identification.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi
  • Thallium
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • thallium chloride
  • technetium tc-99m tetrofosmin
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi
  • Thallium