Molecular imaging takes on cardiovascular disease

Oncologic and neurologic applications of molecular imaging grab a lion’s share of the attention, but the past month of molecular imaging news showcased research related to the cardiovascular arena.

A review published in October in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine looked at the range of radiotracers that can be used for detection of progressive atherosclerotic disease.

“Radiotracer imaging of the lower extremities with techniques such as PET and SPECT can provide a noninvasive quantitative technique for the evaluation of the pathophysiology associated with [peripheral vascular disease] and may complement clinical indices and other imaging approaches,” wrote Mitchel R. Stacy, PhD, of Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues.

The authors noted that CT and MR have their limitations in imaging peripheral vascular disease. While they both offer high spatial resolution, quantitative CT data is often not available and MR has limited sensitivity for resting perfusion studies. Both PET and SPECT are more sensitive and attenuation correction is possible with use of hybrid scanners.

Stacy and colleagues pointed to 3D SPECT with Tl-201 for its usefulness in imaging lower-extremity ischemia. They added that Tc-99m was recommended for multiple studies due to its relatively long half-life and high image quality, and O-15 water was found to be beneficial for evaluating variance in flow reserve in the lower legs.

Elsewhere, a study published Oct. 16 in Neurology demonstrated the connection between hardened arteries and amyloid plaque in the brain, offering another way of identifying those at risk for dementia.

Timothy M. Hughes, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues studied 91 subjects with no signs of dementia and found a single standard deviation increase in brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity, used to check for vascular disease, was correlated with double the odds of a positive amyloid PET scan.

Moreover, the patients with stiffer arteries had a two- to four-fold higher chance of testing positive for white matter hyperintensity burden in the brain.

What molecular imaging research caught your eye this month?


Evan Godt
Editor – Health Imaging