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Rapid multi-tracer PET, where two to three PET tracers are rapidly scanned with staggered injections, can recover certain imaging measures for each tracer based on differences in tracer kinetics and decay. We previously showed that single-tracer imaging measures can be recovered to a certain extent from rapid dual-tracer 62Cu-PTSM (blood flow) + 62Cu-ATSM (hypoxia) tumor imaging. In this work, the feasibility of rapidly imaging 18F-FDG plus one or two of these shorter-lived secondary tracers was evaluated in the same tumor model. Dynamic PET imaging was performed in four dogs with pre-existing tumors, and the raw scan data was combined to emulate 60 minute long dual and triple-tracer scans, using the single-tracer scans as gold standards. The multi-tracer data were processed for static (SUV) and kinetic (K1, Knet) endpoints for each tracer, followed by linear regression analysis of multi-tracer versus single-tracer results. Static and quantitative dynamic imaging measures of FDG were both accurately recovered from the multi-tracer scans, closely matching the single-tracer FDG standards (R > 0.99). Quantitative blood flow information, as measured by PTSM K1 and SUV, was also accurately recovered from the multi-tracer scans (R = 0.97). Recovery of ATSM kinetic parameters proved more difficult, though the ATSM SUV was reasonably well recovered (R = 0.92). We conclude that certain additional information from one to two shorter-lived PET tracers may be measured in a rapid multi-tracer scan alongside FDG without compromising the assessment of glucose metabolism. Such additional and complementary information has the potential to improve tumor characterization in vivo, warranting further investigation of rapid multi-tracer techniques.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2009