BACKGROUND: Myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) using positron emission tomography (PET) tracers is an essential tool in investigating diseases and treatment responses in cardiology. 82Rubidium (82Rb)-PET imaging is advantageous for MPI due to its short half-life, but cannot be used for small animal research due to the long positron range. We aimed to correct for this, enabling MPI with 82Rb-PET in rats.
METHODS: The effect of positron range correction (PRC) on 82Rb-PET was examined using two phantoms and in vivo on rats. A NEMA NU-4-inspired phantom was used for image quality evaluation (%standard deviation (%SD), spillover ratio (SOR) and recovery coefficient (RC)). A cardiac phantom was used for assessing spatial resolution. Two rats underwent rest 82Rb-PET to optimize number of iterations, type of PRC and respiratory gating.
RESULTS: NEMA NU-4 metrics (no PRC vs PRC): %SD 0.087 versus 0.103; SOR (air) 0.022 versus 0.002, SOR (water) 0.059 versus 0.019; RC (3 mm) 0.219 versus 0.584, RC (4 mm) 0.300 versus 0.874, RC (5 mm) 0.357 versus 1.197. Cardiac phantom full width at half maximum (FWHM) and full width at tenth maximum (FWTM) (no PRC vs. PRC): FWTM 6.73 mm versus 3.26 mm (true: 3 mm), FWTM 9.27 mm versus 7.01 mm. The in vivo scans with respiratory gating had a homogeneous myocardium clearly distinguishable from the blood pool.
CONCLUSION: PRC improved the spatial resolution for the phantoms and in vivo at the expense of slightly more noise. Combined with respiratory gating, the spatial resolution achieved using PRC should allow for quantitative MPI in small animals.