Attenuation compensation in 99mTc SPECT brain imaging: a comparison of the use of attenuation maps derived from transmission versus emission data in normal scans

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Radiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Brain; Cerebrovascular Circulation; Humans; *Image Processing, Computer-Assisted; Radiopharmaceuticals; Technetium Tc 99m Exametazime; Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Radiology


Brain SPECT imaging using 99mTc lipophilic tracers such as hexamethyl propyleneamine oxime (HMPAO) attempts to estimate cerebral, cerebellar and subcortical perfusion by assessing the relative amount of tracer uptake among these regions. Most commonly, comparison is made with cerebellar activity. Because the assessment of relative tracer uptake may be rendered inaccurate by photon attenuation by the nonuniform attenuation properties of the head, brain SPECT reconstructions have been compared using attenuation correction (AC) with various methods for estimating the attenuation map. METHODS: Patients underwent 99mTc-HMPAO brain SPECT with transmission line source AC hardware. In addition to the emission dataset, emission downscatter and transmission datasets were acquired. Iterative reconstructions using three different attenuation maps were investigated. These included: (a) that obtained from transmission imaging, (b) that obtained from segmentation of a reconstruction from a lower energy Compton scatter window and (c) a slice-independent, uniform, elliptical attenuation map. No AC was also compared. RESULTS: Count profiles in patients having brain perfusion SPECT scans showed a significant difference in region count estimates in the brain depending on whether AC is used as well as on the attenuation map used. Scatter-based AC is able to provide external contour detection and attenuation compensation based on that contour, whereas transmission-based AC provides external contour detection as well as internal, nonuniform attenuation estimation and AC. If one considers transmission AC to be the clinical "gold standard," non-attenuation-corrected as well as fixed-ellipsoid, uniform attenuation-corrected studies provided unreliable regional estimates of tracer activity. CONCLUSION: This study shows the significant difference in clinical brain SPECT count profiles depending on how and whether there is compensation for attenuation. Based on prior studies validating the improved quantitative accuracy of SPECT using transmission-based AC, this study suggests that clinical 99mTc brain perfusion SPECT would benefit from and, in situations demanding rigorous quantitative assessment, requires transmission-based AC. Estimating attenuation maps with scatter-based methods was the next most accurate (clinical) method tested and can be used if and when transmission imaging cannot be used.


J Nucl Med. 1999 Mar;40(3):456-63.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID