[123I]FP-CIT is a well-established radiotracer for the diagnosis of dopaminergic degenerative disorders. The European Normal Control Database of DaTSCAN (ENC-DAT) of healthy controls has provided age and gender-specific reference values for the [123I]FP-CIT specific binding ratio (SBR) under optimised protocols for image acquisition and processing. Simpler reconstruction methods, however, are in use in many hospitals, often without implementation of attenuation and scatter corrections. This study investigates the impact on the reference values of simpler approaches using two quantifications methods, BRASS and Southampton, and explores the performance of the striatal phantom calibration in their harmonisation.Results
BRASS and Southampton databases comprising 123 ENC-DAT subjects, from gamma cameras with parallel collimators, were reconstructed using filtered back projection (FBP) and iterative reconstruction OSEM without corrections (IRNC) and compared against the recommended OSEM with corrections for attenuation and scatter and septal penetration (ACSC), before and after applying phantom calibration. Differences between databases were quantified using the percentage difference of their SBR in the dopamine transporter-rich striatum, with their significance determined by the paired t test with Bonferroni correction.
Attenuation and scatter losses, measured from the percentage difference between IRNC and ACSC databases, were of the order of 47% for both BRASS and Southampton quantifications. Phantom corrections were able to recover most of these losses, but the SBRs remained significantly lower than the “true” values (p < 0.001). Calibration provided, in fact, “first order” camera-dependent corrections, but could not include “second order” subject-dependent effects, such as septal penetration from extra-cranial activity. As for the ACSC databases, phantom calibration was instrumental in compensating for partial volume losses in BRASS (~67%, p < 0.001), while for the Southampton method, inherently free from them, it brought no significant changes and solely corrected for residual inter-camera variability (−0.2%, p = 0.44).Conclusions
The ENC-DAT reference values are significantly dependent on the reconstruction and quantification methods and phantom calibration, while reducing the major part of their differences, is unable to fully harmonize them. Clinical use of any normal database, therefore, requires consistency with the processing methodology. Caution must be exercised when comparing data from different centres, recognising that the SBR may represent an “index” rather than a “true” value.
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