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Dual-modality imaging is an approach that combines imaging modalities in a way that provides diagnostic information that is not available from a single imaging modality alone. Currently available dual-modality imaging systems include SPECT/CT or PET/CT, with which the radionuclide imaging technology (SPECT or PET) provides functional or metabolic information that is complementary to anatomical information provided by CT. In addition, the development of dual-modality systems that combine radionuclide imaging with magnetic resonance imaging is an area of active research. For spatial and temporal correlation, the dual-modality data can be presented as a fused image in which the radionuclide data are displayed in colour and are superposed on the gray-scale CT image. The resulting correlated data improves differentiation of foci of radionuclide uptake that can indicate disease from those representing normal physiological uptake that are benign.

Dual-modality imaging has been available clinically since the year 2000, and as such is a relatively recent development in the fields of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine. However, the commercial emergence of both PET/CT and SPECT/CT has been rapid and has benefited significantly from recent technological advances in the conventional SPECT, PET, and CT. The clinical growth of dual-modality imaging has been most dramatic in the area of PET/CT which now is available from all of the major medical imaging equipment manufacturers; some observers predict that all PET systems will be installed as PET/CT scanners in the near future. Over the past year, SPECT/CT has gained increased interest and has potential clinical applications in myocardial perfusion imaging and oncologic imaging. Newer high-resolution SPECT/CT and PET/CT systems also are becoming available for small animal imaging and are needed for molecular imaging, biological research, and pharmaceutical development in small animal models of human biology and disease.

At present dual-modality imaging is primarily used for structural-functional correlations. However, as this chapter has attempted to describe, dual-modality imaging also has important ramifications for radionuclide quantification, the major theme and focus of this volume. For example, dual-modality imaging provides x-ray CT data can be normalized to obtain a patient-specific map of attenuation coefficients that be used to compensate the correlated radionuclide data for photon attenuation or for Compton scatter. In addition, regions of interest defined anatomically on the CT image can be used to quantify the correlated radionuclide data in a way that allows more precise target and background definition, and that can use model-based methods that correct the extracted quantitative data for partial-volume effects and other perturbations. The use and understanding of dual-modality imaging as an enabling concept for radionuclide quantification is just starting to emerge. The importance of this development will only be understood and manifest over the ensuing years as PET/CT, SPECT/CT, and other forms of dual-modality imaging become available and are utilized for clinical studies of humans as well as biological investigations involving animal models of biology and disease.


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