Harderian gland adenectomy: A method to eliminate confounding radio-opacity in the assessment of rat brain metabolism by 18F-fluoro-2-deoxy-D- glucose positron emission tomography

David W. Brammer, Janet M. Riley, Steven C. Kreuser, Kenneth R. Zasadny, Michael J. Callahan, Michael D. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The 18F isotope of fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) is a radiotracer commonly used in positron emission tomography (PET) for determining regional metabolic activity in the brain. However, in rats and many other species with nictitating membranes, harderian glands located just behind the eyes aggressively incorporate 18F-FDG to the extent that PET images of the brain become obscured. This radioactive spillover, or 'partial volume error,' combined with the limited spatial resolution of microPET scanners (1.5 to 2 mm) may markedly reduce the ability to quantify neuronal activity in frontal brain structures. Theoretically, surgical removal of the harderian glands before 18F-FDG injection would eliminate the confounding uptake of the radioactive tracer and thereby permit visualization of glucose metabolism in the frontal brain. We conducted a pilot study of unilateral harderian gland adenectomy, leaving the contralateral gland intact for comparison. At 1 wk after surgery, each rat was injected intravenously with 18F-FDG, and 40 min later underwent brain microPET for 20 min. Review of the resulting images showed that the frontal cortex on the surgical side was defined more clearly, with only background 18F-FDG accumulation in the surgical bed. Activity in the frontal cortex on the intact side was obscured by intense accumulation of 18F-FDG in the harderian gland. By reducing partial volume error, this simple surgical procedure may become a valuable tool for visualization of the frontal cortex of rat brain by 18F-FDG microPET imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-45
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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