Transmission Imaging in Lymphoscintigraphy with a 153Gd Flood Source

J Nucl Med Technol. 2015 Dec;43(4):253-60. doi: 10.2967/jnmt.115.161935. Epub 2015 Sep 3.


Lymphoscintigraphy uses intradermal or interstitial injections of (99m)Tc-labeled tracers to produce images of focal lymph nodes. Because there is little or no anatomic information in the (99m)Tc images, a (57)Co flood source is sometimes used to provide transmission data along with the emission data. The anatomic shadow from the transmission scan generally improves interpretation and surgical planning. However, the (57)Co transmission photons contribute to background on the (99m)Tc images, reducing contrast and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). SNR is related to lesion detection, and some lymph nodes that would be detected in an emission-only scan might not be detected if acquired with a (57)Co flood source. An alternative to a (57)Co flood source is a (153)Gd flood source, which has primary photon emissions well below the (99m)Tc emission window, allowing the shadow to be acquired in a separate transmission window. Significantly smaller crosstalk from (153)Gd should improve SNR and therefore would be expected to improve lymph node detection. We hypothesized that the use of a (153)Gd flood source would reduce background and improve SNR for these studies.

Methods: Phantom studies simulating lymphoscintigraphy were performed to compare performance with a (153)Gd flood source, a (57)Co flood source, and no flood source. SNR in the (99m)Tc emission images was measured using a water phantom to simulate patient body and point sources of various activities to simulate nodes and injection site. The encouraging phantom studies prompted use of the (153)Gd flood source in routine clinical breast lymphoscintigraphy, melanoma lymphoscintigraphy, and lymphedema studies. Because emission and transmission data were acquired in separate energy windows, fused planar images of emission and transmission data were available to the physician.

Results: SNR was highest with no flood source and was lowest with the (57)Co flood source by a significant margin. SNR with the (153)Gd flood source was similar to that with no flood source on the anterior (transmission) view. SNR was reduced somewhat in the posterior (nontransmission) view because of attenuation of signal by the flood source itself. Minor crosstalk in the (99m)Tc window was observed with the (153)Gd flood source, attributed to simultaneous detection of x-ray photons and gamma-photons. This crosstalk was reduced by introducing thin metal filters to absorb most x-ray photons, at the expense of more attenuation in the posterior view. Unlike with the (57)Co flood source, a usable posterior view (with anatomic shadow derived from the anterior view) was generated with the (153)Gd flood source. Clinical lymphoscintigraphy images with the (153)Gd flood source were of high quality. Interpretation was aided by the ability to control image mixing and brightness and contrast of separate color scales.

Conclusion: By producing fused images with reduced crosstalk and improved image quality, a (153)Gd flood source offers advantages over a conventional (57)Co flood source for anatomic shadowing in lymphoscintigraphy. Lymph nodes in emission images have higher SNR, indicating a likely improvement in clinical lesion detection. Separate emission and transmission images provide additional flexibility in image display during interpretation.

Keywords: 153Gd; flood source; lymph node detection; lymphoscintigraphy.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Gadolinium*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lymphedema / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphoscintigraphy / methods*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radioisotopes*
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio


  • Radioisotopes
  • Gadolinium