Purpose: [111In]-DTPAOC (Octreoscan(R)) has been shown to be very useful in the detection of somatostatin receptor (SSTR) positive tumors and their metastases using either conventional scintigraphy or single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The main drawback of this method is the limited spatial resolution and a somewhat low receptor affinity of the radiopeptide. Due to the increased spatial resolution and the ability of quantification, an agent for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of SSTR is desirable. This communication shows our initial experience using [68Ga]-DOTA-D-Phe(1)-Tyr(3)-Octreotide (DOTATOC) in comparison to [111In]-DTPAOC-SPECT in patients with neuroendocrine tumors.
Procedures: Four patients, two male and two female (46-55 years old) have been examined by [111In]-DTPAOC scintigraphy and within one month by [68Ga]-DOTATOC-PET. All of them suffered from neuroendocrine tumors and/or their metastases. DOTATOC has been labeled using the positron-emitting generator-nuclide 68Ga (t(1/2) 68 minutes). In two patients with previously known localization of tumor, dynamic PET scans after intravenous bolus-injection of 181+/-17 MBq [68Ga]-DOTATOC until 120 minutes post-injection were acquired. In all patients, the static PET-scans have been acquired after 45 or 60 minutes post-injection (SUV1) and 140 minutes post-injection (SUV2).
Results: Similar to [111In]-DTPAOC, [68Ga]-DOTATOC showed the highest uptake in the spleen, followed by the kidneys and the liver. A clear delineation of the pituitary gland could only be achieved by PET. The highest SUVs were found at a plateau between 45 and 90 minutes with a maximum 60 minutes post-injection. Due to the fast tracer accumulation in the tumor and the rapid clearance of the compound, resulting in high tumor to background ratios even 40 minutes after injection, the short half life of 68Ga is reasonable. In two patients more findings have been revealed by [68Ga]-DOTATOC-PET as compared to the [111In]-DTPAOC-SPECT. In comparison to the [111In]-DTPAOC-SPECT [68Ga]-DOTATOC-PET seems to be superior especially concerning small findings with low tracer uptake. Both [111In]-DTPAOC-SPECT and [68Ga]-DOTATOC-PET were less sensitive in the detection of liver metastases of neuroendocrine tumors compared to computerized tomography CT because they showed a lower uptake than the surrounding liver tissue.
Conclusions: According to our initial experiences in a limited number of patients, [68Ga]-DOTATOC is a promising PET tracer for imaging neuroendocrine tumors and their metastases. In comparison to the [111In]-DTPAOC-scan it seems to be superior especially in detecting small tumors or tumors bearing only a low density of SSTRs. It offers excellent imaging properties and very high tumor to background ratios. Further evaluation of [68Ga]-DOTATOC in a larger number of patients is certainly justified.