Purpose: A joint initiative of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM) Neuroimaging Committee and EANM Research Ltd. aimed to generate a European database of [(123)I]FP-CIT single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans of healthy controls. This study describes the characterization and harmonization of the imaging equipment of the institutions involved.
Methods: (123)I SPECT images of a striatal phantom filled with striatal to background ratios between 10:1 and 1:1 were acquired on all the gamma cameras with absolute ratios measured from aliquots. The images were reconstructed by a core lab using ordered subset expectation maximization (OSEM) without corrections (NC), with attenuation correction only (AC) and additional scatter and septal penetration correction (ACSC) using the triple energy window method. A quantitative parameter, the simulated specific binding ratio (sSBR), was measured using the "Southampton" methodology that accounts for the partial volume effect and compared against the actual values obtained from the aliquots. Camera-specific recovery coefficients were derived from linear regression and the error of the measurements was evaluated using the coefficient of variation (COV).
Results: The relationship between measured and actual sSBRs was linear across all systems. Variability was observed between different manufacturers and, to a lesser extent, between cameras of the same type. The NC and AC measurements were found to underestimate systematically the actual sSBRs, while the ACSC measurements resulted in recovery coefficients close to 100% for all cameras (AC range 69-89%, ACSC range 87-116%). The COV improved from 46% (NC) to 32% (AC) and to 14% (ACSC) (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: A satisfactory linear response was observed across all cameras. Quantitative measurements depend upon the characteristics of the SPECT systems and their calibration is a necessary prerequisite for data pooling. Together with accounting for partial volume, the correction for scatter and septal penetration is essential for accurate quantification.