A practical SPECT technique for quantitation of drug delivery to human tumors and organ absorbed radiation dose

Semin Nucl Med. 1989 Jan;19(1):33-46. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2998(89)80034-0.


A practical quantitative single photon emission computed tomographic (SPECT) technique based on an empirical threshold analysis permits accurate measurements in humans of drug delivery and absorbed radiation dose. The limits of the method have been explored using a wide range of phantom volumes, concentrations, and target-to-nontarget ratios. A threshold of 43% was found to give the best results using volumes of 30 to 3,800 cc. An excellent correlation (r = .99 with a standard error of estimate [SEE] of 41 cc) was found between SPECT measured volumes and actual phantom volumes. A similarly high correlation (r = .98, SEE = 260 counts/voxel) was found in 77 measurements of concentrations between 0.01 and 3.6 microCi/cc. There was a direct relationship between the target-to-nontarget ratio of phantoms and the accuracy of volume measurements. The technique has been validated by an excellent in vivo/in vitro correlation of uptake in human tumors. The tumor cumulative concentration and tumor-to-blood ratio were used for assessment of drug delivery. In vivo quantitative measurements of the pharmacokinetics of technetium-99m (99mTc) glucoheptonate, cobalt-57 (57Co) bleomycin and platinum-195m (195mPt) cisplatin in human tumors in vivo indicates that, in contrast with tumor models in animals, there is a marked variability in drug delivery even in tumors with the same histology. Future development of labeled drugs should make it possible to use quantitative SPECT for predicting tumor response to therapy and for tailoring chemotherapy for the individual patient under treatment. SPECT quantitation of organ concentration was used for Medical Internal Radiation Dose committee (MIRD) calculations of organ absorbed radiation dose from 99mTc-labeled RBCs. Excellent in vivo/in vitro correlations were obtained between SPECT measured concentrations of blood radioactivity in the heart and in vitro measurements of blood samples. The possibilities and limitations of this technique are discussed and its use for in vivo measurement in humans of absorbed radiation dose from radiopharmaceuticals is suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Models, Structural
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / standards


  • Contrast Media