SPECT/CT radiation dosimetry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Single-photon emission computed tomography combined with X-ray computed tomography (SPECT/CT) improves diagnostic accuracy by allowing better localization and definition of scintigraphic findings. However, the combined acquisition of functional and anatomical images can substantially increase radiation exposure to patients, particularly when using a hybrid system with diagnostic CT capabilities. At the same time, the introduction of new SPECT and CT reconstruction techniques (based on the use of iterative algorithms), and of CT automatic dose modulation techniques, has opened the way for possible reductions in patient dose and/or improvements of image quality. It is, therefore, essential to carefully balance the diagnostic needs and the radiation protection requirements, optimizing the choice of radiopharmaceutical and administered activity, and the image acquisition and processing modalities both in SPECT and in CT. This is particularly important in the case of pediatric examinations. In short, to maximize benefit to patients, SPECT/CT studies have to be optimized, adopting dose-reduction measures both from CT and SPECT practices. In SPECT, shorter lived gamma emitters should be preferred and the amount of activity administered must be carefully adjusted to the patient’s size. In CT, scanning parameters (scanning length, tube current, tube voltage, filtration, collimation, slice thickness, pitch, automatic dose modulation method, reconstruction technique, and image processing) must be chosen carefully, remembering that normally the scanned images are used only for the purposes of attenuation correction and/or a more precise localization of scintigraphic findings, which require lower quality and consequently entail a lower dose to the patient. On the other hand, good quality diagnostic CT images, obtained at higher dose levels, are necessary if a diagnostic CT examination must still be planned for the patient. The purpose of this review on SPECT/CT radiation dosimetry is to provide updated information on the total effective dose and total equivalent doses to critical organs due to both radiopharmaceutical administration and CT scan modality for both adults and pediatric patients. The use of new solid-state detectors (cadmium zinc telluride) for SPECT cameras will also be considered. Finally, the means of easily determining SPECT/CT dose to patients will be provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-569
Number of pages13
JournalClinical and Translational Imaging
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 10 2014


  • Effective dose
  • Injected activity
  • Radiation dosimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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