Clinical and Dosimetric Implications of Calculating Lung Shunt Fraction for Hepatic 90Y Radioembolization Using SPECT/CT Versus Planar Scintigraphy

Lucas Struycken, Mikin Patel, Phillip Kuo, Charles T Hennemeyer, Gregory Woodhead, Hugh McGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Accurate assessment of hepatopulmonary shunting, typically performed by planar scintigraphy, is critical in planning 90Y radioembolization. High lung shunt fractions (LSFs) may alter treatment. OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study is to compare LSFs calculated from planar scintigraphy versus SPECT/CT in patients with high planar LSFs (> 15%) and to describe the potential clinical and dosimetric implications of SPECT/CT LSF calculations. METHODS. This retrospective study included 36 patients (29 men and seven women; mean age, 62.4 ± 9.8 [SD] years) who underwent 99mTc–macroaggregated albumin (MAA) planar scintigraphy for planning hepatic radioembolization, had a planar LSF greater than 15%, and underwent concurrent SPECT/CT. Clinically reported planar LSFs were recorded. SPECT/CT LSFs were retrospectively calculated using automatically generated volumetric ROIs around the lungs and liver with subsequent manual adjustments. Total lung and perfused liver doses were calculated using a medical internal radiation dose model. Values derived from planar and SPECT/CT data were compared using Mann-Whitney U tests. Multivariable regression analysis was performed of factors associated with the discrepancy in LSF between the techniques. RESULTS. Mean planar LSF was 25.1% ± 11.6%, and mean SPECT/CT LSF was 16.0% ± 9.3% (p < .001). Mean lung dose was 18.8 ± 8.0 Gy for planar LSF versus 12.3 ± 7.2 Gy for SPECT/CT LSF (p < .001). Mean perfused liver dose was 92.9 ± 36.1 Gy using planar LSF versus 102.7 ± 39.1 Gy using SPECT/CT LSF (p < .001). In multivariable analysis, a larger discrepancy in LSF between planar scintigraphy and SPECT/CT was associated with a body mass index (weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters) of 26 or higher (p = .02), maximum tumor size of less than 9 cm (p = .05), and left hepatic intraarterial injection (p = .02). Fourteen of 36 patients did not undergo upfront radioembolization due to a planar LSF greater than 20% and instead underwent shunt-reducing embolization with subsequent radioembolization (n = 7), transarterial chemoembolization (n = 5), or no treatment (n = 2). Five of these 14 patients had a SPECT/CT LSF of less than 20% and would have been eligible for upfront radioembolization based on SPECT/CT LSF. Seven of 29 patients treated with radioembolization underwent prescribed dose reductions based on planar LSF; six of these patients would have qualified for standard radioembolization without dose reduction using SPECT/CT LSF. CONCLUSION. Planar scintigraphy yields greater LSFs compared with SPECT/CT, possibly leading to unnecessary shunt-reducing procedures and prescribed dose reductions. CLINICAL IMPACT. SPECT/CT should be considered for clinical LSF calculations before radioembolization in patients with high LSFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-737
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • lung shunt fraction
  • radioembolization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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