Background: In the ongoing efforts to reduce cardiac perfusion dose (injected radioactivity) for conventional SPECT/CT systems, we performed a human observer study to confirm our clinical model observer findings that iterative reconstruction employing OSEM (ordered-subset expectation-maximization) at 25% of the full dose (quarter-dose) has a similar performance for detection of hybrid cardiac perfusion defects as FBP at full dose.
Methods: One hundred and sixty-six patients, who underwent routine rest-stress Tc-99m sestamibi cardiac perfusion SPECT/CT imaging and clinically read as normally perfused, were included in the study. Ground truth was established by the normal read and the insertion of hybrid defects. In addition to the reconstruction of the 25% of full-dose data using OSEM with attenuation (AC), scatter (SC), and spatial resolution correction (RC), FBP and OSEM (with AC, SC, and RC) both at full dose (100%) were done. Both human observer and clinical model observer confidence scores were obtained to generate receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves in a task-based image quality assessment.
Results: Average human observer AUC (area under the ROC curve) values of 0.725, 0.876, and 0.890 were obtained for FBP at full dose, OSEM at 25% of full dose, and OSEM at full dose, respectively. Both OSEM strategies were significantly better than FBP with P values of 0.003 and 0.01 respectively, while no significant difference was recorded between OSEM methods (P = 0.48). The clinical model observer results were 0.791, 0.822, and 0.879, respectively, for the same patient cases and processing strategies used in the human observer study.
Conclusions: Cardiac perfusion SPECT/CT using OSEM reconstruction at 25% of full dose has AUCs larger than FBP and closer to those of full-dose OSEM when read by human observers, potentially replacing the higher dose studies during clinical reading.
Keywords: Cardiac perfusion; SPECT/CT; dose fractionation; human observers.