Purpose: Diagnosing Parkinson's disease (PD) on clinical grounds may be difficult, especially in the early stages of the disease. F-DOPA PET and FP-CIT SPECT scans are able to determine presynaptic dopaminergic activity in different ways. The aim of this study was to determine and compare the sensitivity and specificity of the two methods in the detection of striatal dopaminergic deficits in the same cohort of PD patients and healthy controls.
Methods: Movement disorder specialists recruited 11 patients with early-stage PD and 17 patients with advanced PD. The patients underwent both an FP-CIT SPECT scan and an F-DOPA PET scan. In addition, 10 FP-CIT SPECT scans or 10 F-DOPA PET scans were performed in 20 healthy controls. A template with regions of interest was used to sample tracer activity of the caudate, putamen and a reference region in the brain. The outcome parameter was the striatooccipital ratio (SOR). Normal SOR values were determined in the controls. The sensitivity and specificity of both scanning methods were calculated.
Results: FP-CIT SPECT and F-DOPA PET scans were both able to discriminate PD patients from healthy controls. For the early phases of the disease, sensitivity and specificity of the contralateral striatal and putaminal uptake of FP-CIT and F-DOPA was 100%. When only caudate uptake was considered, the specificities were 100% and 90% for FP-CIT and F-DOPA, respectively, while the sensitivity was 91% for both scanning techniques.
Conclusion: FP-CIT SPECT and F-DOPA PET scans are both able to diagnose presynaptic dopaminergic deficits in early phases of PD with excellent sensitivity and specificity.