Ready for prime time? Dual tracer PET and SPECT imaging

Am J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2012;2(4):415-7. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Dual isotope single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and dual tracer positron emission tomography (PET) imaging have great potential in clinical and molecular applications in the pediatric as well as the adult populations in many areas of brain, cardiac, and oncologic imaging as it allows the exploration of different physiological and molecular functions (e.g., perfusion, neurotransmission, metabolism, apoptosis, angiogenesis) under the same physiological and physical conditions. This is crucial when the physiological functions studied depend on each other (e.g., perfusion and metabolism) hence requiring simultaneous assessment under identical conditions, and can reduce greatly the quantitation errors associated with physical factors that can change between acquisitions (e.g., human subject or animal motion, change in the attenuation map as a function of time) as is detailed in this editorial. The clinical potential of simultaneous dual isotope SPECT, dual tracer PET and dual SPECT/PET imaging are explored and summarized. In this issue of AJNMMI (, Chapman et al. explore the feasibility of simultaneous and sequential SPECT/PET imaging and conclude that down-scatter and crosstalk from 511 keV photons preclude obtaining useful SPECT information in the presence of PET radiotracers. They report on an alternative strategy that consists of performing sequential SPECT and PET studies in hybrid microPET/SPECT/CT scanners, now widely available for molecular imaging. They validate their approach in a phantom consisting of a 96-well plate with variable (99m)Tc and (18)F concentrations and illustrate the utility of such approaches in two sequential SPECT-PET/CT studies that include (99m)Tc-MAA/(18)F-NaF and (99m)Tc-Pentetate/(18)F-NaF. These approaches will need to be proven reproducible, accurate and robust to variations in the experimental conditions before they can be accepted by the molecular imaging community and be implemented in routine molecular microPET and microSPECT explorations. Although currently not accepted as standard procedures in the molecular imaging community, such approaches have the potential to open the way to new SPECT/PET explorations that allow studying molecular mechanisms and pathways in the living animal under similar physiological conditions. Although still premature for the clinical setting, these approaches can be extended to clinical research once proven accurate and precise in vivo in small and large animal models.

Keywords: Dualisotope; dual tracer; positron emission tomography (PET); quantitative imaging; single photon emission tomography (SPECT).