Cited 3 times since 2022 (1.3 per year) source: EuropePMC Seminars in nuclear medicine, Volume 52, Issue 5, 2 1 2022, Pages 597-610 Nuclear medicine imaging methods of radiation-induced cardiotoxicity. Polomski ES, Antoni ML, Jukema JW, Kroep JR, Dibbets-Schneider P, Sattler MGA, de Geus-Oei LF

Breast cancer survival is significantly improved over the past decades due to major improvements in anti-tumor therapies and the implementation of regular screening, which leads to early detection of breast cancer. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to prevent patients from long-term side effects, including radiotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity. Radiotherapy may contribute to damage of myocardial structures on the cellular level, which eventually could result in various types of cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease and (non-)ischemic cardiomyopathy, leading to heart failure. These cardiac complications of radiotherapy are preceded by alterations in myocardial perfusion and blood flow. Therefore, early detection of these alterations is important to prevent the progression of these pathophysiological processes. Several radionuclide imaging techniques may contribute to the early detection of these changes. Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) cameras can be used to create Multigated Acquisition scans in order to assess the left ventricular systolic and diastolic function. Furthermore, SPECT cameras are used for myocardial perfusion imaging with radiopharmaceuticals such as 99mTc-sestamibi and 99mTc-tetrofosmin. Accurate quantitative measurement of myocardial blood flow (MBF), can be performed by Positron Emission Tomography (PET), as the uptake of some of the tracers used for PET-based MBF measurement almost creates a linear relationship with MBF, resulting in very accurate blood flow quantification. Furthermore, there are PET and SPECT tracers that can assess inflammation and denervation of the cardiac sympathetic nervous system. Research over the past decades has mainly focused on the long-term development of left ventricular impairment and perfusion defects. Considering laterality of the breast cancer, some early studies have shown that women irradiated for left-sided breast cancer are more prone to cardiotoxic side effects than women irradiated for right-sided breast cancer. The left-sided radiation field in these trials, which predominantly used older radiotherapy techniques without heart-sparing techniques, included a larger volume of the heart and left ventricle, leading to increased unavoidable radiation exposure to the heart due to the close proximity of the radiation treatment volume. Although radiotherapy for breast cancer exposes the heart to incidental radiation, several improvements and technical developments over the last decades resulted in continuous reduction of radiation dose and volume exposure to the heart. In addition, radiotherapy reduces loco-regional tumor recurrences and death from breast cancer and improves survival. Therefore, in the majority of patients, the benefits of radiotherapy outweigh the potential very low risk of cardiovascular adverse events after radiotherapy. This review addresses existing nuclear imaging techniques, which can be used to evaluate (long-term) effects of radiotherapy-induced mechanical cardiac dysfunction and discusses the potential use of more novel nuclear imaging techniques, which are promising in the assessment of early signs of cardiac dysfunction in selected irradiated breast cancer patients.

Semin Nucl Med. 2022 3;52(5):597-610