SpringerOpen, EJNMMI Physics, 1(8), 2021
Abstract Background High activities of holmium-166 (166Ho)–labeled microspheres are used for therapeutic radioembolization, ideally directly followed by SPECT imaging for dosimetry purposes. The resulting high-count rate potentially impacts dead time, affecting the image quality and dosimetric accuracy. This study assesses gamma camera performance and SPECT image quality at high 166Ho activities of several GBq. To this purpose, the liver compartment, including two tumors, of an anthropomorphic phantom was filled with 166Ho-chloride, with a tumor to non-tumorous liver activity concentration ratio of 10:1. Multiple SPECT/CT scans were acquired over a range of activities up to 2.7 GBq. Images were reconstructed using a commercially available protocol incorporating attenuation and scatter correction. Dead time effects were assessed from the observed count rate in the photopeak (81 keV, 15% width) and upper scatter (118 keV, 12% width) window. Post reconstruction, each image was scaled with an individual conversion factor to match the known total activity in the phantom at scanning time. The resulting activity concentration was measured in the tumors and non-tumorous liver. The image quality as a function of activity was assessed by a visual check of the absence of artifacts by a nuclear medicine physician. The apparent lung shunt fraction (nonzero due to scatter) was estimated on planar and SPECT images. Results A 20% count loss due to dead time was observed around 0.7 GBq in the photopeak window. Independent of the count losses, the measured activity concentration was up to 100% of the real value for non-tumorous liver, when reconstructions were normalized to the known activity at scanning time. However, for tumor spheres, activity concentration recovery was ~80% at the lowest activity, decreasing with increasing activity in the phantom. Measured lung shunt fractions were relatively constant over the considered activity range. Conclusions At high 166Ho count rate, all images, visually assessed, presented no artifacts, even at considerable dead time losses. A quantitative evaluation revealed the possibility of reliable dosimetry within the healthy liver, as long as a post-reconstruction scaling to scanning activity is applied. Reliable tumor dosimetry, instead, remained hampered by the dead time.