Development and evaluation of a model-based downscatter compensation method for quantitative I-131 SPECT
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PURPOSE: The radionuclide 131I has found widespread use in targeted radionuclide therapy (TRT), partly due to the fact that it emits photons that can be imaged to perform treatment planning or posttherapy dose verification as well as beta rays that are suitable for therapy. In both the treatment planning and dose verification applications, it is necessary to estimate the activity distribution in organs or tumors at several time points. In vivo estimates of the 131I activity distribution at each time point can be obtained from quantitative single-photon emission computed tomography (QSPECT) images and organ activity estimates can be obtained either from QSPECT images or quantification of planar projection data. However, in addition to the photon used for imaging, 131I decay results in emission of a number of other higher-energy photons with significant abundances. These higher-energy photons can scatter in the body, collimator, or detector and be counted in the 364 keV photopeak energy window, resulting in reduced image contrast and degraded quantitative accuracy; these photons are referred to as downscatter. The goal of this study was to develop and evaluate a model-based downscatter compensation method specifically designed for the compensation of high-energy photons emitted by 131I and detected in the imaging energy window. METHODS: In the evaluation study, we used a Monte Carlo simulation (MCS) code that had previously been validated for other radionuclides. Thus, in preparation for the evaluation study, we first validated the code for 131I imaging simulation by comparison with experimental data. Next, we assessed the accuracy of the downscatter model by comparing downscatter estimates with MCS results. Finally, we combined the downscatter model with iterative reconstruction-based compensation for attenuation (A) and scatter (S) and the full (D) collimator-detector response of the 364 keV photons to form a comprehensive compensation method. We evaluated this combined method in terms of quantitative accuracy using the realistic 3D NCAT phantom and an activity distribution obtained from patient studies. We compared the accuracy of organ activity estimates in images reconstructed with and without addition of downscatter compensation from projections with and without downscatter contamination. RESULTS: We observed that the proposed method provided substantial improvements in accuracy compared to no downscatter compensation and had accuracies comparable to reconstructions from projections without downscatter contamination. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that the proposed model-based downscatter compensation method is effective and may have a role in quantitative 131I imaging.
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