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Semin Nucl Med. 2007 Jan;37(1):34-47.

Single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography in brain tumors.

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  • 1Department of Biopathology and Diagnostic Imaging, University "Tor Vergata," Rome, Italy. orazio.schillaci@uniroma2.it


Anatomic imaging procedures (computed tomography [CT] and magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) have become essential tools for brain tumor assessment. Functional images (positron emission tomography [PET] and single-photon emission computed tomography [SPECT]) can provide additional information useful during the diagnostic workup to determine the degree of malignancy and as a substitute or guide for biopsy. After surgery and/or radiotherapy, nuclear medicine examinations are essential to assess persistence of tumor, to differentiate recurrence from radiation necrosis and gliosis, and to monitor the disease. The combination of functional images with anatomic ones is of the utmost importance for a full evaluation of these patients, which can be obtained by means of imaging fusion. Despite the fast-growing diffusion of PET, in most cases of brain tumors, SPECT studies are adequate and provide results that parallel those obtained with PET. The main limitation of SPECT imaging with brain tumor-seeking radiopharmaceuticals is the lack of precise anatomic details; this drawback is overcome by the fusion with morphological studies that provide an anatomic map to scintigraphic data. In the past, software-based fusion of independently performed SPECT and CT or MRI demonstrated usefulness for brain tumor assessment, but this process is often time consuming and not practical for everyday nuclear medicine studies. The recent development of dual-modality integrated imaging systems, which allow the acquisition of SPECT and CT images in the same scanning session, and their co-registration by means of the hardware, has facilitated this process. In SPECT studies of brain tumors with various radiopharmaceuticals, fused images are helpful in providing the precise localization of neoplastic lesions, and in excluding the disease in sites of physiologic tracer uptake. This information is useful for optimizing diagnosis, therapy monitoring, and radiotherapy treatment planning, with a positive impact on patient management.

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