Impact of obesity on nuclear medicine imaging



Obesity, with its alarming increase among adults and children, represents a significant health problem with serious medical, social, psychologic, and economic reverberations. The burden of this problem significantly affects the medical care system, including medical imaging. The effect of obesity on nuclear medicine imaging spans many aspects, from preimaging patient preparation to radiotracer administration, image acquisition, and image interpretation. The acquired images may be suboptimal because of artifacts due to soft-tissue attenuation and incomplete whole-body coverage, and quantification may be suboptimal, especially for PET. Other difficulties include mechanical problems such as the weight limit of the imaging table and the bore size of the PET or SPECT/CT scanner and the need to alter the timing, duration, or protocol of many imaging procedures. These issues are discussed in this review, which clarifies the impact of this epidemic health problem on nuclear medicine services and proposes possible solutions to overcome obesity-related difficulties encountered in nuclear medicine practice.