Purpose: We developed a method of image data projection of bone SPECT into 3D volume-rendered CT images for 3D SPECT/CT fusion. The aims of our study were to evaluate its feasibility and clinical usefulness. Methods: Whole-body bone scintigraphy (WB) and SPECT/CT scans were performed in 318 cancer patients using a dedicated SPECT/CT systems. Volume data of bone SPECT and CT were fused to obtain 2D SPECT/CT images. To generate our 3D SPECT/CT images, colored voxel data of bone SPECT were projected onto the corresponding location of the volume-rendered CT data after a semi-automatic bone extraction. Then, the resultant 3D images were blended with conventional volume-rendered CT images, allowing to grasp the three-dimensional relationship between bone metabolism and anatomy. WB and SPECT (WB + SPECT), 2D SPECT/CT fusion, and 3D SPECT/CT fusion were evaluated by two independent reviewers in the diagnosis of bone metastasis. The inter-observer variability and diagnostic accuracy in these three image sets were investigated using a four-point diagnostic scale. Results: Increased bone metabolism was found in 744 metastatic sites and 1002 benign changes. On a per-lesion basis, inter-observer agreements in the diagnosis of bone metastasis were 0.72 for WB + SPECT, 0.90 for 2D SPECT/CT, and 0.89 for 3D SPECT/CT. Receiver operating characteristic analyses for the diagnostic accuracy of bone metastasis showed that WB + SPECT, 2D SPECT/CT, and 3D SPECT/CT had an area under the curve of 0.800, 0.983, and 0.983 for reader 1, 0.865, 0.992, and 0.993 for reader 2, respectively (WB + SPECT vs. 2D or 3D SPECT/CT, p < 0.001; 2D vs. 3D SPECT/CT, n.s.). The durations of interpretation of WB + SPECT, 2D SPECT/CT, and 3D SPECT/CT images were 241 ± 75, 225 ± 73, and 182 ± 71 s for reader 1 and 207 ± 72, 190 ± 73, and 179 ± 73 s for reader 2, respectively. As a result, it took shorter time to read 3D SPECT/CT images than 2D SPECT/CT (p < 0.0001) or WB + SPECT images (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: 3D SPECT/CT fusion offers comparable diagnostic accuracy to 2D SPECT/CT fusion. The visual effect of 3D SPECT/CT fusion facilitates reduction of reading time compared to 2D SPECT/CT fusion.
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