Experimental detection of iron overload in liver through neutron stimulated emission spectroscopy.
Iron overload disorders have been the focus of several quantification studies involving non-invasive imaging modalities. Neutron spectroscopic techniques have demonstrated great potential in detecting iron concentrations within biological tissue. We are developing a neutron spectroscopic technique called neutron stimulated emission computed tomography (NSECT), which has the potential to diagnose iron overload in the liver at clinically acceptable patient dose levels through a non-invasive scan. The technique uses inelastic scatter interactions between atomic nuclei in the sample and incoming fast neutrons to non-invasively determine the concentration of elements in the sample. This paper discusses a non-tomographic application of NSECT investigating the feasibility of detecting elevated iron concentrations in the liver. A model of iron overload in the human body was created using bovine liver tissue housed inside a human torso phantom and was scanned with a 5 MeV pulsed beam using single-position spectroscopy. Spectra were reconstructed and analyzed with algorithms designed specifically for NSECT. Results from spectroscopic quantification indicate that NSECT can currently detect liver iron concentrations of 6 mg g(-1) or higher and has the potential to detect lower concentrations by optimizing the acquisition geometry to scan a larger volume of tissue. The experiment described in this paper has two important outcomes: (i) it demonstrates that NSECT has the potential to detect clinically relevant concentrations of iron in the human body through a non-invasive scan and (ii) it provides a comparative standard to guide the design of iron overload phantoms for future NSECT liver iron quantification studies.
Kapadia, AJ; Tourassi, GD; Sharma, AC; Crowell, AS; Kiser, MR; Howell, CR
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