SPECT attenuation correction: an essential tool to realize nuclear cardiology's manifest destiny

J Nucl Cardiol. 2007 Jan;14(1):16-24. doi: 10.1016/j.nuclcard.2006.12.144.


Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) myocardial perfusion imaging has attained widespread clinical acceptance as a standard of care for cardiac patients. Yet, physical phenomena degrade the accuracy of how our cardiac images are visually interpreted or quantitatively analyzed. This degradation results in cardiac images in which brightness or counts are not necessarily linear with tracer uptake or myocardial perfusion. Attenuation correction (AC) is a methodology that has evolved over the last 30 years to compensate for this degradation. Numerous AC clinical trials over the last 10 years have shown increased diagnostic accuracy over non-AC SPECT for detecting and localizing coronary artery disease, particularly for significantly increasing specificity and normalcy rate. This overwhelming evidence has prompted our professional societies to issue a joint position statement in 2004 recommending the use of AC to maximize SPECT diagnostic accuracy and clinical usefulness. Phantom and animal studies have convincingly shown how SPECT AC recovers the true regional myocardial activity concentration, while non-AC SPECT does not. Thus, AC is also an essential tool for extracting quantitative parameters from all types of cardiac radionuclide distributions, and plays an important role in establishing cardiac SPECT for flow, metabolic, innervation, and molecular imaging, our manifest destiny.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Cardiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement*
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*