J Joseph, MR Tomaszewski, I Quiros-Gonzalez, J Weber, J Brunker, SE Bohndiek
J Nucl Med
Optoacoustic tomography (OT) is now widely used in preclinical imaging; however, the precision (repeatability and reproducibility) of OT has yet to be determined. Methods: We used a commercial small-animal OT system. Measurements in stable phantoms were used to independently assess the impact of system variables on precision (using coefficient of variation, COV), including acquisition wavelength, rotational position, and frame averaging. Variables due to animal handling and physiology, such as anatomic placement and anesthesia conditions, were then assessed in healthy nude mice using the left kidney and spleen as reference organs. Temporal variation was assessed by repeated measurements over hours and days both in phantoms and in vivo. Sensitivity to small-molecule dyes was determined in phantoms and in vivo; precision was assessed in vivo using IRDye800CW. Results: OT COV in a stable phantom was less than 2.8% across all wavelengths over 30 d. The factors with the greatest impact on signal repeatability in phantoms were rotational position and user experience, both of which still resulted in a COV of less than 4% at 700 nm. Anatomic region-of-interest size showed the highest variation, at 12% and 18% COV in the kidney and spleen, respectively; however, functional SO2 measurements based on a standard operating procedure showed an exceptional reproducibility of less than 4% COV. COV for repeated injections of IRDye800CW was 6.6%. Sources of variability for in vivo data included respiration rate, degree of user experience, and animal placement. Conclusion: Data acquired with our small-animal OT system were highly repeatable and reproducible across subjects and over time. Therefore, longitudinal OT studies may be performed with high confidence when our standard operating procedure is followed.