Quantification of the tracer distribution would add objectivity to the visual assessments of dopamine transporter (DAT) single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) data. Our study aimed to evaluate the diagnostic utility of fractal dimension (FD) as a quantitative indicator of tracer distribution and compared with the conventional quantitative value: specific binding ratio (SBR). We also evaluated the utility of the combined index SBR/FD (SBR divided by FD).
Materials and methods
We conducted both clinical and phantom studies. In the clinical study, 150 patients including 110 patients with Parkinsonian syndrome (PS) and 40 without PS were enrolled. In the phantom study, we used a striatal phantom with the striatum chamber divided into two spaces, representing the caudate nucleus and putamen. The SBR, FD, and SBR/FD were calculated and compared between datasets for evaluating the diagnostic utility. Mann–Whitney test and receiver-operating characteristics (ROC) analysis were used for analysis.
ROC analysis revealed that the FD value had high diagnostic performance [the areas under the curve (AUC) = 0.943] and the combined use of SBR and FD (SBR/FD) delivered better results than the SBR alone (AUC, 0.964 vs 0.899; p < 0.001). The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy, respectively, were 79.1, 85.0, and 80.7% with SBR, 84.5, 97.5, and 88.0% with FD, and 92.7, 87.5, and 91.3% with SBR/FD.
Our results confirmed that the FD value is a useful diagnostic index, which reflects the tracer distribution in DAT SPECT images. The combined use of SBR and FD was more useful than either used alone.
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