Background: Past receiver operating characteristic (ROC) studies have demonstrated that single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) perfusion imaging by use of iterative reconstruction with combined compensation for attenuation, scatter, and detector response leads to higher area under the ROC curve (A(z)) values for detection of coronary artery disease (CAD) in comparison to the use of filtered backprojection (FBP) with no compensations. A new ROC study was conducted to investigate whether this improvement still holds for iterative reconstruction when observers have available all of the imaging information normally presented to clinical interpreters when reading FBP SPECT perfusion slices.
Methods and results: A total of 87 patient studies including 50 patients referred for angiography and 37 patients with a lower than 5% likelihood for CAD were included in the ROC study. The images from the two methods were read by 4 cardiology fellows and 3 attending nuclear cardiologists. Presented for the FBP readings were the short-axis, horizontal long-axis, and vertical long-axis slices for both the stress and rest images; cine images of both the stress and rest projection data; cine images of selected cardiac-gated slices; the CEQUAL-generated stress and rest polar maps; and an indication of patient gender. This was compared with reading solely the iterative reconstructed stress slices with combined compensation for attenuation, scatter, and resolution. With A(z) as the criterion, a 2-way analysis of variance showed a significant improvement in detection accuracy for CAD for the 7 observers (P = .018) for iterative reconstruction with combined compensation (A(z) of 0.895 +/- 0.016) over FBP even with the additional imaging information provided to the observers when scoring the FBP slices (A(z) of 0.869 +/- 0.030). When the groups of 3 attending physicians or 4 cardiology fellows were compared separately, the iterative technique was not statistically significantly better; however, the A(z) for each of the 7 observers individually was larger for iterative reconstruction than for FBP. Compared with results from our previous studies, the additional imaging information did increase the diagnostic accuracy of FBP for CAD but not enough to undo the statistically significantly higher diagnostic accuracy of iterative reconstruction with combined compensation.
Conclusions: We have determined through an ROC investigation that included two classes of observers (experienced attending physicians and cardiology fellows in training) that iterative reconstruction with combined compensation provides statistically significantly better detection accuracy (larger A(z)) for CAD than FBP reconstructions even when the FBP studies were read with all of the extra clinical nuclear imaging information normally available.