Impact of technology on the utilisation of positron emission tomography in lymphoma: current and future perspectives

  • D. VisvikisEmail author
  • P. J. Ell


Positron emission tomography (PET) has now gained a place in the management of patients with cancer, including those with Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Restaging studies and those addressing the monitoring of response to treatment are especially in focus. Most of the knowledge gained has been achieved with dedicated BGO-based PET technology, but there are a number of developments that will impact on the use of this metabolic imaging technique in the investigation of patients with lymphoma. The challenges ahead are determined by the need for high-quality whole-body imaging associated with increased patient throughput and the need to investigate the role of new labelled ligands. The latter are likely to yield new insights into tumour cell characterisation, tumour behaviour and tumour outcome assessment. The study of new radiolabelled ligands will impose further demands for rapid dynamic data acquisition and accurate tracer quantification. Current and future developments in PET technology range from the use of new detector materials to different detector geometries and data acquisition modes. The search for alternatives to BGO scintillation materials for PET has led to the development of PET instruments utilising new crystals such as LSO and GSO. The use of these new detectors and the increased sensitivity achieved with 3D data acquisitions represent the most significant current developments in the field. With the increasing demands imposed on the clinical utilisation of PET, issues such as study cost and patient throughput will emerge as significant future factors. As a consequence, low-cost units are being offered by the manufacturers through the utilisation of gamma camera-based SPET systems for PET coincidence imaging. Unfortunately, clinical studies in lymphoma and other cancers have already demonstrated the limitations of this technology, with 20% of lesions <15 mm in size escaping detection. On the other hand, the recent development of combined PET/CT devices attempts to address the lack of anatomical information inherent with PET images, taking advantage of further improvement in patient throughput and hence cost-effectiveness. Preliminary studies using this multimodality imaging approach have already demonstrated the potential of the technique. Although the potential exists, certain technical issues with PET/CT require refinement of the methodology. Such issues include organ movement (such as respiratory motion), which strongly influences the image fusion of a rapidly acquired CT scan with the slower acquisition of a PET dataset, and the derivation of CT-based attenuation coefficients in the presence of contrast agents or metallic implants. The application of the technology for radiotherapy planning also poses a number of associated challenges. Finally, the development of dedicated PET systems based on planar detector arrangements with new detector components has the potential to improve clinical throughput by over 100%, but clinical trials using such systems have still to be carried out in order to establish the associated whole-body image quality.


[18F]FDG PET Detector technology Lymphoma Quantitation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Royal Free and University College Medical SchoolMiddlesex HospitalLondonUK

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