Heterogeneous liver uptake of Tc-99m-GSA as quantified through SPECT/CT helps to evaluate the degree of liver fibrosis: A retrospective observational study

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Abstract

Tc-99m-galactosyl human serum albumin (GSA) scintigraphy is used to assess the hepatic functional reserve, and allows for visual assessment of the residual hepatocyte distribution on single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) images. The association between heterogeneous liver uptake of Tc-99m-GSA and liver fibrosis remains to be studied in detail. We analyzed this association.

Fifty-one patients with chronic hepatobiliary disease undergoing a Tc-99m-GSA scintigraphy were included in this study. The receptor (LHL15) and blood clearance (HH15) indexes (the uptake ratios of the liver and heart) were obtained from dynamic planar images. The liver uptake count maximum-to-mean ratio (LUC Max/Mean) was calculated from single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) images as an indicator of the Tc-99m-GSA liver uptake heterogeneity. We assessed the relationship between these quantified values and liver fibrosis.

There were 30 Child-Pugh classification grade A patients, 16 grade B patients, and 5 grade C patients. Among the 30 patients whose liver histopathology was evaluable, those with advanced liver fibrosis (F2-4) had a lower LHL15 than those with mild liver fibrosis (F0-1) (median, 0.90 vs. 0.92, P = .04), and a higher LUC Max/Mean (median, 1.80 vs. 1.70, P = .02). The multivariate analysis identified platelets (P = .04) and the LUC Max/Mean (P = .04) as contributing factors of advanced liver fibrosis.

These findings suggest that Tc-99m-GSA SPECT/CT can be used not only to assess the hepatic functional reserve, but also to evaluate a degree of liver fibrosis.

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