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Attenuation artifact in SPECT radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging

Gary V Heller, MD, PhD, FACC, MASNC
Section Editor
Warren J Manning, MD
Deputy Editor
Brian C Downey, MD, FACC


The value of radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging (rMPI) with single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) for the diagnosis and risk stratification of coronary heart disease (CHD) is well-established. However, the full clinical potential of rMPI has not been realized due to numerous factors producing artifacts. These artifacts degrade image quality and increase the risk of misinterpretation of the results [1].

Soft tissue attenuation is one of the more common causes of rMPI artifact. The heart is surrounded by tissues of varying densities (eg, bone, lungs, and breast). Radionuclide imaging of the thorax results in nonuniform myocardial photon activity due to these intervening structures. Unpredictable artifact may arise when the body habitus differs significantly from expected gender-specific patterns. Photon attenuation and the resultant artifacts are affected by several factors, including:

Body size

Depth of the heart in the body


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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 30, 2017.
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