Date: 25 Feb 2010

A review on the clinical uses of SPECT/CT

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Abstract

In the era when positron emission tomography (PET) seems to constitute the most advanced application of nuclear medicine imaging, still the conventional procedure of single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is far from being obsolete, especially if combined with computed tomography (CT). In fact, this dual modality imaging technique (SPECT/CT) lends itself to a wide variety of useful diagnostic applications whose clinical impact is in most instances already well established, while the evidence is growing for newer applications. The increasing availability of new hybrid SPECT/CT devices with advanced technology offers the opportunity to shorten acquisition time and to provide accurate attenuation correction and fusion imaging. In this review we analyse and discuss the capabilities of SPECT/CT for improving sensitivity and specificity in the imaging of both oncological and non-oncological diseases. The main advantages of SPECT/CT are represented by better attenuation correction, increased specificity, and accurate depiction of the localization of disease and of possible involvement of adjacent tissues. Endocrine and neuroendocrine tumours are accurately localized and characterized by SPECT/CT, as also are solitary pulmonary nodules and lung cancers, brain tumours, lymphoma, prostate cancer, malignant and benign bone lesions, and infection. Furthermore, hybrid SPECT/CT imaging is especially suited to support the increasing applications of minimally invasive surgery, as well as to precisely define the diagnostic and prognostic profile of cardiovascular patients. Finally, the applications of SPECT/CT to other clinical disorders or malignant tumours is currently under extensive investigation, with encouraging results in terms of diagnostic accuracy.