Quantitative [18F]-Naf-PET-MRI Analysis for the Evaluation of Dynamic Bone Turnover in a Patient with Facetogenic Low Back Pain

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Imaging techniques that reflect dynamic bone turnover may aid in characterizing a wide range of bone pathologies. Bone is a dynamic tissue undergoing continuous remodeling with the competing activity of osteoblasts, which produce the new bone matrix, and osteoclasts, whose function is to eliminate mineralized bone. [18F]-NaF is a positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer that enables visualization of bone metabolism. [18F]-NaF is chemically absorbed into hydroxyapatite in the bone matrix by osteoblasts and can thus noninvasively detect osteoblastic activity, which is occult to conventional imaging techniques. Kinetic modeling of dynamic [18F]-NaF-PET data provides detailed quantitative measures of bone metabolism. Conventional semi-quantitative PET data, which utilizes standardized uptake values (SUVs) as a measure of radiotracer activity, is referred to as a static technique due to its snapshot of tracer uptake in time.  Kinetic modeling, however, utilizes dynamic image data where tracer levels are continuously acquired providing tracer uptake temporal resolution. From the kinetic modeling of dynamic data, quantitative values like blood flow and metabolic rate (i.e., potentially informative metrics of tracer dynamics) can be extracted, all with respect to the measured activity in the image data. When combined with dual modality PET-MRI, region-specific kinetic data can be correlated with anatomically registered high-resolution structural and pathologic information afforded by MRI. The goal of this methodological manuscript is to outline detailed techniques for performing and analyzing dynamic [18F]-NaF-PET-MRI data. The lumbar facet joint is a common site of degenerative arthritis disease and a common cause for axial low back pain.  Recent studies suggest [18F]-NaF-PET may serve as a useful biomarker of painful facetogenic disease.  The human lumbar facet joint will, therefore, be used as a prototypical region of interest for dynamic [18F]-NaF-PET-MRI analysis in this manuscript.