A multi-pinhole collimation device is developed that uses the gamma camera detectors of a clinical SPECT or SPECT-CT scanner to produce high resolution SPECT images. The device consists of a rotating cylindrical collimator having 22 tungsten pinholes with 0.9 mm diameter apertures and an animal bed inside the collimator that moves linearly to provide helical or ordered-subsets axial sampling. CT images also may be acquired on a SPECT-CT scanner for purposes of image co-registration and SPECT attenuation correction. The device is placed on the patient table of the scanner without attaching to the detectors or scanner gantry. The system geometry is calibrated in-place from point source data and is then used during image reconstruction. The SPECT imaging performance of the device is evaluated with test phantom scans. Spatial resolution from reconstructed point source images is measured to be 0.6 mm full width at half maximum or better. Micro-Derenzo phantom images demonstrate the ability to resolve 0.7 mm diameter rod patterns. The axial slabs of a Micro-Defrise phantom are visualized well. Collimator efficiency exceeds 0.05% at the center of the field of view, and images of a uniform phantom show acceptable uniformity and minimal artifact. The overall simplicity and relatively good imaging performance of the device make it an interesting low-cost alternative to dedicated small animal scanners.
SPECT; SPECT-CT; pinhole; collimation; high resolution; small animal
In this study related to human brain SPECT imaging, simulation of half-cone-beam (HCB) collimation with different scan paths is performed and compared with simulated fan-beam and parallel-hole circular orbit acquisitions of disk-phantom projection data. Acquisition types are quantitatively evaluated based on the photon detection efficiency, the root-mean-squared error, contrast and signal-to-noise ratio measurements of the reconstructed images. We demonstrate that a triple-camera SPECT system with half-cone-beam collimators and circle-and-helix scan paths can offer up to a 26% efficiency increase over fan-beam, and up to a 128% increase over parallel-hole collimators for equal spatial resolutions, and display no visible axial sampling artifacts in reconstructed disk-phantom images. In addition, we perform qualitative experimental evaluation of triple-HCB circle-and-helix acquisition using a Hoffman 3D brain phantom. Reconstructed brain phantom images show improved quality due to reduced noise and no apparent sampling artifacts. Triple-HCB circle-and-helix SPECT has a potential for improved brain imaging, producing higher image quality with a smaller reconstruction error and better lesion detectability due to increased efficiency for equal spatial resolution compared to conventional fan-beam and parallel-hole SPECT.
axial sampling; brain SPECT; circle-and-helix; half-cone-beam; helical-path; triple-camera
In 131I SPECT, image quality and quantification accuracy are degraded by object scatter as well as scatter and penetration in the collimator. The characterization of energy and spatial distributions of scatter and penetration performed in this study by Monte Carlo simulation will be useful for the development and evaluation of techniques that compensate for such events in 131I imaging.
First, to test the accuracy of the Monte Carlo model, simulated and measured data were compared for both a point source and a phantom. Next, simulations to investigate scatter and penetration were performed for four geometries: point source in air, point source in a water-filled cylinder, hot sphere in a cylinder filled with nonradioactive water, and hot sphere in a cylinder filled with radioactive water. Energy spectra were separated according to order of scatter, type of interaction, and γ-ray emission energy. A preliminary evaluation of the triple-energy window (TEW) scatter correction method was performed.
The accuracy of the Monte Carlo model was verified by the good agreement between measured and simulated energy spectra and radial point spread functions. For a point source in air, simulations show that 73% of events in the photopeak window had either scattered in or penetrated the collimator, indicating the significance of collimator interactions. For a point source in a water-filled phantom, the separated energy spectra showed that a 20% photopeak window can be used to eliminate events that scatter more than two times in the phantom. For the hot sphere phantoms, it was shown that in the photopeak region the spectrum shape of penetration events is very similar to that of primary (no scatter and no penetration) events. For the hot sphere regions of interest, the percentage difference between true scatter counts and the TEW estimate of scatter counts was <12%.
In 131I SPECT, object scatter as well as collimator scatter and penetration are significant. The TEW method provides a reasonable correction for scatter, but the similarity between the 364-keV primary and penetration energy spectra makes it difficult to compensate for these penetration events using techniques that are based on spectral analysis.
scatter correction; penetration; 131I imaging; SPECT; Monte Carlo simulated data
Integrated PET/CT has emerged as an integral component of oncology management because of its unique potential of providing both functional and morphological images in a single imaging session. In this work, performance of the ‘bismuth germinate (BGO) crystal’-based PET of a newly installed Discovery ST PET/CT was evaluated in 2D and 3D mode for whole-body scanning using National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) NU 2-2001 protocol and the recommended phantoms. During the entire measurements, the system operates with an energy window of 375-650 keV and 11.7 ns coincidence time window. The set of tests performed were spatial resolution, sensitivity, scatter fraction (SF) and counting rate performance. The average transaxial and axial spatial resolution measured as full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the point spread function at 1 cm (and 10 cm) off-axis was 0.632 (0.691) and 0.491 (0.653) cm in 2D and 0.646 (0.682) and 0.54 (0.601) cm in 3D respectively. The average sensitivity for the two radial positions (R = 0 cm and R = 10 cm) was 2.56 (2.63) cps/kBq in 2D and 11.85 (12.14) cps/kBq in 3D. The average scatter fraction was 19.79% in 2D and 46.19% in 3D. The peak noise equivalent counting rate (NECR) evaluated with single random subtraction was 89.41 kcps at 49 kBq/cc in 2D and 60 kcps at 12 kBq/cc in 3D acquisition mode. The NECR with delayed random subtraction was 61.47 kcps at 40.67 kBq/cc in 2D and 45.57 kcps at 16.45 kBq/cc in 3D. The performance of the PET scanner was satisfactory within the manufacturer-specified limits. The test result of PET shows excellent system sensitivity with relatively uniform resolution throughout the FOV, making this scanner highly suitable for whole-body studies.
National Electrical Manufacturers Association NU2 - 2001; performance measurement; PET/CT
We investigated the use of partial collimation on a clinical PET scanner by removing septa from conventional 2D collimators. The goal is to improve noise equivalent count-rates (NEC) compared to 2D and 3D scans for clinically relevant activity concentrations. We evaluated two cases: removing half of the septa (2.5D); and removing two-thirds of the septa (2.7D). System performance was first modeled using the SimSET simulation package, and then measured with the NEMA NU2-2001 count-rate cylinder (20 cm dia., 70 cm long), and 27 cm and 35 cm diameter cylinders of the same length. An image quality phantom was also imaged with the 2.7D collimator. SimSET predicted the relative NEC curves very well, as confirmed by measurements, with 2.5D and 2.7D NEC greater than 2D and 3D NEC in the range of ~5–20 mCi in the phantom. We successfully reconstructed images of the image quality phantom from measured 2.7D data using custom 2.7D normalization. Partial collimation shows promise for optimized clinical imaging in a fixed-collimator system.
We present a simulation study of the effect of different degrees of collimation on countrate performance of a hypothetical PET scanner with LSO crystals. The simulated scanner is loosely based on the geometry of the Siemens Biograph Hi-Rez scanner.
System behavior is studied with a photon tracking simulation package (SimSET).
We investigate the NEMA NU2-2001 count rate and scatter fraction behavior for systems with different amounts of collimation, which is achieved by adding septa to the fully-3D system as in clinical use. We study systems with 2, 5, 11, and 40 septa. The effect of collimation is studied for three patient thicknesses.
The resulting count rate curves for true, scattered, and random coincidences as well as noise equivalent count rates are compared for the different collimation cases. Improved countrate performance with partial collimation is seen. However, except for the largest diameter phantom, the NEC rate increase is seen at higher activities than those used clinically.
The NEC countrate versus activity curves for the LSO systems are also compared to those from a BGO system where partial collimation increases NEC countrate over a clinically relevant activity range.
A method was devised to quantitate regional capillary perfusion in the human heart by measuring the clearance constants (k) of Xenon-133 washout from multiple areas of the myocardium with a multiple-crystal scintillation camera. In 17 subjects, 133Xe was injected into the right or left coronary artery or both and counts per second (cps) were recorded simultaneously on magnetic tape from each of 294 scintillation crystals viewing the precordium through a multichannel collimator. Data were processed by a digital computer. Crystals detecting the myocardial washout of 133Xe were distinguished from those monitoring pulmonary excretion by positioning radioactive markers at the cardiac margins, and by a computer printout of the peak cps recorded by each crystal and its time after isotope injection into the coronary artery. The slopes of the initial segment of the multiple 133Xe curves obtained in each study were calculated by the method of least squares using a monoexponential model. Myocardial blood flow rates in the cardiac regions viewed by the individual crystals were calculated (assuming a blood to myocardium partition coefficient of 0.72) along with the SD of every flow measurement. The pattern of myocardial perfusion rates so obtained was superimposed over a tracing of the subject's coronary arteriogram. Scintiphotographs showing the arrival and washout of isotope from various regions of myocardium and the area of tissue perfused by each coronary artery were obtained by replaying the data tape on an oscilloscope. Significant regional variations in local myocardial perfusion rates were observed in hearts with normal coronary arteries. When capillary flow measurements from crystals overlying the various cardiac chambers were averaged in each subject, the mean myocardial blood flow rate of the left ventricle in 17 patients, 64.1 ±13.9 (SD) ml/100 g·min, significantly exceeded that of the right ventricle, 47.8 ±10.9 ml/100 g·min, and of the right atrial region, 33.6 ±10.3 ml/100 g·min. The approach may facilitate more objective assessment of: myocardial capillary perfusion in patients with angina pactoris, the pharmacology of antianginal drugs, and the efficacy of surgical procedures to revascularize ischemic myocardium.
Compared to imaging the heart with conventional cameras, dedicated cardiac SPECT systems can achieve much higher performance through use of a small field of view. To realize this potential, however, the heart must be reliably placed in the appropriate small FOV prior to imaging, thus requiring a separate scout operation to locate the heart and estimate its size. Further-more, to achieve high performance across the general population, a system should provide several imaging configurations optimized for different size and location of the heart and the size of the patient. Because of the critical role the collimator plays in SPECT, it would be ideal if a dedicated collimator could be used for each of the different patient groups, as well as for the scout imaging. The ability to exchange collimators without moving the patient can also enable serial studies with different imaging options while preserving anatomic registration.
We developed a slit exchange system for the slit-slat collimator of the C-SPECT cardiac platform. The full-scale prototype, a precision link conveyor following a curved, body contouring path, allows four distinct transaxial collimation options. The collimators can be exchanged in 10 seconds without disturbing the patient, thus allowing adaptive clinical SPECT imaging. The positioning precision for all elements of the system is within 0.1 mm and has shown no degradation over 100,000 complete revolutions of the conveyor—twice the expected usage for a clinical system. We consider the rapid and precise operation allowing optimal collimation for different imaging tasks to be an important technological step for cardiac SPECT.
Adaptive systems; biomedical imaging; collimators; single photon emission computed tomography
We have designed a multi-pinhole collimator for a dual-headed, stationary SPECT system that incorporates high-resolution silicon double-sided strip detectors. The compact camera design of our system enables imaging at source–collimator distances between 20 and 30 mm. Our analytical calculations show that using knife-edge pinholes with small-opening angles or cylindrically shaped pinholes in a focused, multi-pinhole configuration in combination with this camera geometry can generate narrow sensitivity profiles across the field of view that can be useful for imaging small objects at high sensitivity and resolution. The current prototype system uses two collimators each containing 127 cylindrically shaped pinholes that are focused toward a target volume. Our goal is imaging objects such as a mouse brain, which could find potential applications in molecular imaging.
Scintillation camera imaging is used for treatment planning and post-treatment dosimetry in liver radioembolization (RE). In yttrium-90 (90Y) RE, scintigraphic images of technetium-99m (99mTc) are used for treatment planning, while 90Y Bremsstrahlung images are used for post-treatment dosimetry. In holmium-166 (166Ho) RE, scintigraphic images of 166Ho can be used for both treatment planning and post-treatment dosimetry. The aim of this study is to quantitatively evaluate and compare the imaging characteristics of these three isotopes, in order that imaging protocols can be optimized and RE studies with varying isotopes can be compared.
Phantom experiments were performed in line with NEMA guidelines to assess the spatial resolution, sensitivity, count rate linearity, and contrast recovery of 99mTc, 90Y and 166Ho. In addition, Monte Carlo simulations were performed to obtain detailed information about the history of detected photons. The results showed that the use of a broad energy window and the high-energy collimator gave optimal combination of sensitivity, spatial resolution, and primary photon fraction for 90Y Bremsstrahlung imaging, although differences with the medium-energy collimator were small. For 166Ho, the high-energy collimator also slightly outperformed the medium-energy collimator. In comparison with 99mTc, the image quality of both 90Y and 166Ho is degraded by a lower spatial resolution, a lower sensitivity, and larger scatter and collimator penetration fractions.
The quantitative evaluation of the scintillation camera characteristics presented in this study helps to optimize acquisition parameters and supports future analysis of clinical comparisons between RE studies.
Pinhole collimators are widely used for SPECT imaging of small organs and animals. There also has been renewed interest in using pinhole arrays for clinical cardiac SPECT imaging to achieve high sensitivity and complete data sampling. Overall sensitivity of a pinhole array is critical in determining a system’s performance. Conventionally, a point source model has been used to evaluate the sensitivity and optimize the system design. This model is simple but far from realistic. This work addresses the use of more realistic source models to assess the sensitivity performance of pinhole collimation. We have derived an analytical formula for pinhole collimation sensitivity with a general source distribution model using spherical harmonics. As special cases of this general model, we provided the pinhole sensitivity formulae for line, disk and sphere sources. These results show that the point source model is just the zeroth-order approximation of the other source models. The point source model overestimates or underestimates the sensitivity relative to the more realistic model. The sphere source model yields the same sensitivity as a point source located at the center of the sphere when attenuation is not taken into account. In the presence of attenuation, the average path length of emitted gamma-rays is 3/4 of the radius of the sphere source. The calculated sensitivities based on these formulae show good agreement with separate Monte Carlo simulations in simple cases. The general and special sensitivity formulae derived here can be useful for the design and optimization of SPECT systems that utilize pinhole collimators.
We measured count rates and scatter fraction on the Discovery STE PET/CT scanner in conventional 2D and 3D acquisition modes, and in a partial collimation mode between 2D and 3D. As part of the evaluation of using partial collimation, we estimated global count rates using a scanner model that combined computer simulations with an empirical live-time function. Our measurements followed the NEMA NU2 count rate and scatter-fraction protocol to obtain true, scattered and random coincidence events, from which noise equivalent count (NEC) rates were calculated. The effect of patient size was considered by using 27 cm and 35 cm diameter phantoms, in addition to the standard 20 cm diameter cylindrical count-rate phantom. Using the scanner model, we evaluated two partial collimation cases: removing half of the septa (2.5D) and removing two-thirds of the septa (2.7D). Based on predictions of the model, a 2.7D collimator was constructed. Count rates and scatter fractions were then measured in 2D, 2.7D and 3D. The scanner model predicted relative NEC variation with activity, as confirmed by measurements. The measured 2.7D NEC was equal or greater than 3D NEC for all activity levels in the 27 cm and 35 cm phantoms. In the 20 cm phantom, 3D NEC was somewhat higher (~15%) than 2.7D NEC at 100 MBq. For all higher activity concentrations, 2.7D NEC was greater and peaked 26% above the 3D peak NEC. The peak NEC in 2.7D mode occurred at ~425 MBq, and was 26–50% greater than the peak 3D NEC, depending on object size. NEC in 2D was considerably lower, except at relatively high activity concentrations. Partial collimation shows promise for improved noise equivalent count rates in clinical imaging without altering other detector parameters.
In single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), attenuation of photon flux in tissue affects quantitative accuracy of reconstructed images. Attenuation maps derived from X-ray computed tomography (CT) can be employed for attenuation correction. The attenuation coefficients as well as registration accuracy between SPECT and CT can be influenced by several factors. Here we investigate how such inaccuracies influence micro-SPECT quantification.
Effects of (1) misalignments between micro-SPECT and micro-CT through shifts and rotation, (2) globally altered attenuation coefficients and (3) combinations of these were evaluated. Tests were performed with a NEMA NU 4–2008 phantom and with rat cadavers containing sources with known activity.
Changes in measured activities within volumes of interest in phantom images ranged from <1.5% (125I) and <0.6% (201Tl, 99mTc and 111In) for 1-mm shifts to <4.5% (125I) and <1.7% (201Tl, 99mTc and 111In) with large misregistration (3 mm). Changes induced by 15° rotation were smaller than those by 3-mm shifts. By significantly altering attenuation coefficients (±10%), activity changes of <5.2% for 125I and <2.7% for 201Tl, 99mTc and 111In were induced. Similar trends were seen in rat studies.
While getting sufficient accuracy of attenuation maps in clinical imaging is highly challenging, our results indicate that micro-SPECT quantification is quite robust to various imperfections of attenuation maps.
Molecular imaging; SPECT; CT; Small animal; Misregistration; Attenuation correction; Quantification
The Inveon dedicated PET (DPET) tomograph is the latest generation of preclinical PET systems dedicated to high resolution and high sensitivity murine model imaging. Here, we report on its performance based on the NEMA NU-4 standards.
The Inveon DPET consists of 64 lutetium oxyorthosilicate (LSO) block detectors arranged in 4 contiguous rings, with a 16.1 cm ring diameter and a 12.7 cm axial length. Each detector block consists of a 20×20 LSO crystal array of 1.51×1.51×10.0 mm3 elements. The scintillation light is transmitted to position-sensitive photomultiplier tubes via optical light guides. Energy resolution, spatial resolution, sensitivity, scatter fraction and count rate performance were evaluated. The NEMA NU-4 image quality phantom and a normal mouse injected with 18FDG and 18F− were scanned to evaluate its imaging capability.
The energy resolution at 511 keV was 14.6% on average for the entire system. In-plane radial and tangential resolutions reconstructed with Fourier rebinning and filtered backprojection algorithms were below 1.8 mm full width at half maximum (FWHM) at the center of field of view (FOV). The radial and tangential resolution remained under 2.0 mm and the axial resolution remained under 3.0 mm FWHM within the central 4 cm diameter FOV. The absolute sensitivity of the system was measured to be 9.3% for an energy window of 250–625 keV and a timing window of 3.432 ns. The peak NECR at a 350–625 keV energy window and a 3.432 ns timing window was 1670 kcps at 130 MBq for the mouse-sized phantom and 590 kcps at 110 MBq for the rat-sized phantom. The scatter fractions at the same acquisition settings were 7.8% and 17.2% for the mouse- and rat-sized phantoms, respectively. The mouse image quality phantom results demonstrate that for typical mouse acquisitions, the image quality correlates well to the measured performance parameters in terms of image uniformity, recovery coefficients, attenuation and scatter corrections.
The Inveon system shows significantly improved energy resolution, sensitivity, axial coverage and count rate capabilities compared to previous generations of preclinical PET systems from the same manufacturer. Its performance is suitable for successful murine model imaging experiments.
microPET; small-animal PET scanner; performance evaluation; instrumentation; molecular imaging
An SPECT image can be approximated as the convolution of the ground truth spatial radioactivity with the system point spread function (PSF). The PSF of an SPECT system is determined by the combined effect of several factors, including the gamma camera PSF, scattering, attenuation, and collimator response. It is hard to determine the SPECT system PSF
analytically, although it may be measured experimentally. We formulated a blind deblurring reconstruction algorithm to
estimate both the spatial radioactivity distribution and the system PSF from the set of blurred projection images. The
algorithm imposes certain spatial-frequency domain constraints on the reconstruction volume and the PSF and does
not otherwise assume knowledge of the PSF. The algorithm alternates between two iterative update sequences that
correspond to the PSF and radioactivity estimations, respectively. In simulations and a small-animal study, the algorithm
reduced image blurring and preserved the edges without introducing extra artifacts. The localized measurement shows
that the reconstruction efficiency of SPECT images improved more than 50% compared to conventional expectation
maximization (EM) reconstruction. In experimental studies, the contrast and quality of reconstruction was substantially
improved with the blind deblurring reconstruction algorithm.
A geometric model and calibration process are developed for SPECT imaging with multiple pinholes and multiple mechanical axes. Unlike the typical situation where pinhole collimators are mounted directly to rotating gamma ray detectors, this geometric model allows for independent rotation of the detectors and pinholes, for the case where the pinhole collimator is physically detached from the detectors. This geometric model is applied to a prototype small animal SPECT device with a total of 22 pinholes and which uses dual clinical SPECT detectors. All free parameters in the model are estimated from a calibration scan of point sources and without the need for a precision point source phantom. For a full calibration of this device, a scan of four point sources with 360° rotation is suitable for estimating all 95 free parameters of the geometric model. After a full calibration, a rapid calibration scan of two point sources with 180° rotation is suitable for estimating the subset of 22 parameters associated with repositioning the collimation device relative to the detectors. The high accuracy of the calibration process is validated experimentally. Residual differences between predicted and measured coordinates are normally distributed with 0.8 mm full width at half maximum and are estimated to contribute 0.12 mm root mean square to the reconstructed spatial resolution. Since this error is small compared to other contributions arising from the pinhole diameter and the detector, the accuracy of the calibration is sufficient for high resolution small animal SPECT imaging.
calibration; SPECT; high-resolution imaging; pinhole; small animal
In this work, we developed and validated a Monte Carlo simulation (MCS) tool for investigation and evaluation of multi-pinhole (MPH) SPECT imaging.
This tool was based on a combination of the SimSET and MCNP codes. Photon attenuation and scatter in the object, as well as penetration and scatter through the collimator detector, are modeled in this tool. It allows accurate and efficient simulation of MPH SPECT with focused pinhole apertures and user-specified photon energy, aperture material, and imaging geometry. The MCS method was validated by comparing the point response function (PRF), detection efficiency (DE), and image profiles obtained from point sources and phantom experiments. A prototype single-pinhole collimator and focused four- and five-pinhole collimators fitted on a small animal imager were used for the experimental validations. We have also compared computational speed among various simulation tools for MPH SPECT, including SimSET-MCNP, MCNP, SimSET-GATE, and GATE for simulating projections of a hot sphere phantom.
We found good agreement between the MCS and experimental results for PRF, DE, and image profiles, indicating the validity of the simulation method. The relative computational speeds for SimSET-MCNP, MCNP, SimSET-GATE, and GATE are 1: 2.73: 3.54: 7.34, respectively, for 120-view simulations. We also demonstrated the application of this MCS tool in small animal imaging by generating a set of low-noise MPH projection data of a 3D digital mouse whole body phantom.
The new method is useful for studying MPH collimator designs, data acquisition protocols, image reconstructions, and compensation techniques. It also has great potential to be applied for modeling the collimator-detector response with penetration and scatter effects for MPH in the quantitative reconstruction method.
Monte Carlo simulation; SPECT; Multi-pinhole; SimSET; MCNP
In this study, we simulated a Siemens E.CAM SPECT system using SIMIND Monte Carlo program to acquire its experimental characterization in terms of energy resolution, sensitivity, spatial resolution and imaging of phantoms using 99mTc. The experimental and simulation data for SPECT imaging was acquired from a point source and Jaszczak phantom. Verification of the simulation was done by comparing two sets of images and related data obtained from the actual and simulated systems. Image quality was assessed by comparing image contrast and resolution. Simulated and measured energy spectra (with or without a collimator) and spatial resolution from point sources in air were compared. The resulted energy spectra present similar peaks for the gamma energy of 99mTc at 140 KeV. FWHM for the simulation calculated to 14.01 KeV and 13.80 KeV for experimental data, corresponding to energy resolution of 10.01 and 9.86% compared to defined 9.9% for both systems, respectively. Sensitivities of the real and virtual gamma cameras were calculated to 85.11 and 85.39 cps/MBq, respectively. The energy spectra of both simulated and real gamma cameras were matched. Images obtained from Jaszczak phantom, experimentally and by simulation, showed similarity in contrast and resolution. SIMIND Monte Carlo could successfully simulate the Siemens E.CAM gamma camera. The results validate the use of the simulated system for further investigation, including modification, planning, and developing a SPECT system to improve the quality of images.
Emission tomography; Monte Carlo simulation; SIMIND; SPECT; 99mTc imaging
National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) NU 2-2007 performance measurements were conducted on the Inveon™ preclinical small animal PET system developed by Siemens Medical Solutions. The scanner uses 1.51 × 1.51 × 10 mm LSO crystals grouped in 20 × 20 blocks; a tapered light guide couples the LSO crystals of a block to a position-sensitive photomultiplier tube. There are 80 rings with 320 crystals per ring and the ring diameter is 161 mm. The transaxial and axial fields of view (FOVs) are 100 and 127 mm, respectively. The scanner can be docked to a CT scanner; the performance characteristics of the CT component are not included herein. Performance measurements of spatial resolution, sensitivity, scatter fraction and count rate performance were obtained for different energy windows and coincidence timing window widths. For brevity, the results described here are for an energy window of 350–650 keV and a coincidence timing window of 3.43 ns. The spatial resolution at the center of the transaxial and axial FOVs was 1.56, 1.62 and 2.12 mm in the tangential, radial and axial directions, respectively, and the system sensitivity was 36.2 cps kBq−1 for a line source (7.2% for a point source). For mouse- and rat-sized phantoms, the scatter fraction was 5.7% and 14.6%, respectively. The peak noise equivalent count rate with a noisy randoms estimate was 1475 kcps at 130 MBq for the mouse-sized phantom and 583 kcps at 74 MBq for the rat-sized phantom. The performance measurements indicate that the Inveon™ PET scanner is a high-resolution tomograph with excellent sensitivity that is capable of imaging at a high count rate.
Collimation can improve both the spatial resolution and sampling properties compared to the same scanner without collimation. Spatial resolution improves because each original crystal can be conceptually split into two (i.e., doubling the number of in-plane crystals) by masking half the crystal with a high-density attenuator (e.g., tungsten); this reduces coincidence efficiency by 4× since both crystals comprising the line of response (LOR) are masked, but yields 4× as many resolution-enhanced (RE) LORs. All the new RE LORs can be measured by scanning with the collimator in different configurations.
In this simulation study, the collimator was assumed to be ideal, neither allowing gamma penetration nor truncating the field of view. Comparisons were made in 2D between an uncollimated small-animal system with 2-mm crystals that were assumed to be perfectly absorbing and the same system with collimation that narrowed the effective crystal size to 1 mm. Digital phantoms included a hot-rod and a single-hot-spot, both in a uniform background with activity ratio of 4:1. In addition to the collimated and uncollimated configurations, angular and spatial wobbling acquisitions of the 2-mm case were also simulated. Similarly, configurations with different combinations of the RE LORs were considered including (i) all LORs, (ii) only those parallel to the 2-mm LORs; and (iii) only cross pairs that are not parallel to the 2-mm LORs. Lastly, quantitative studies were conducted for collimated and uncollimated data using contrast recovery coefficient and mean-squared error (MSE) as metrics.
The reconstructions show that for most noise levels there is a substantial improvement in image quality (i.e., visual quality, resolution, and a reduction in artifacts) by using collimation even when there are 4× fewer counts or – in some cases – comparing with the noiseless uncollimated reconstruction. By comparing various configurations of sampling, the results show that it is the matched combination of both improved spatial resolution of each LOR and the increase in the number of LORs that yields improved reconstructions. Further, the quantitative studies show that for low-count scans, the collimated data give better MSE for small lesions and the uncollimated data give better MSE for larger lesions; for high-count studies, the collimated data yield better quantitative values for the entire range of lesion sizes that were evaluated.
PET; Positron Emission Tomography; Collimation; Collimator; High Resolution
X-ray equipment testing using phantoms that mimic the specific human anatomy, morphology, and structure is a very important step in the research, development, and routine quality assurance for such equipment. Although the NEMA XR21 phantom exists for cardiac applications, there is no such standard phantom for neuro-, peripheral and cardio-vascular angiographic applications. We have extended the application of the NEMA XR21-2000 phantom to evaluate neurovascular x-ray imaging systems by structuring it to be head-equivalent; two aluminum plates shaped to fit into the NEMA phantom geometry were added to a 15 cm thick section. Also, to enable digital subtraction angiography (DSA) testing, two replaceable central plates with a hollow slot were made so that various angiographic sections could be inserted into the phantom. We tested the new modified phantom using a flat panel C-arm unit dedicated for endovascular image-guided interventions. All NEMA XR21-2000 standard test sections were used in evaluations with the new “head-equivalent” phantom. DSA and DA are able to be tested using two standard removable blocks having simulated arteries of various thickness and iodine concentrations (AAPM Report 15). The new phantom modifications have the benefits of enabling use of the standard NEMA phantom for angiography in both neuro- and cardio-vascular applications, with the convenience of needing only one versatile phantom for multiple applications. Additional benefits compared to using multiple phantoms are increased portability and lower cost.
Cardiac and Neurovascular phantom; NEMA XR21; digital angiography phantom; digital subtracted angiography phantom
PETbox is a low cost bench top preclinical PET scanner dedicated to pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic mouse studies. A prototype system was developed at our institute, and this manuscript characterizes the performance of the prototype system.
The PETbox detector consists of a 20×44 bismuth germanate crystal array with a thickness of 5 mm and cross-section size of 2.05×2.05 mm. Two such detectors are placed facing each other at a spacing of 5 cm, forming a dual-head geometry optimized for imaging mice. The detectors are kept stationary during the scan, making PETbox a limited angle tomography system. 3D images are reconstructed using a maximum likelihood and expectation maximization (ML–EM) method. The performance of the prototype system was characterized based on a modified set of the NEMA NU 4-2008 standards.
In-plane image spatial resolution was measured to be an average of 1.53 mm full width at half maximum for coronal images and 2.65 mm for the anterior–posterior direction. The volumetric reconstructed resolution was below 8 mm3 at most locations in the field of view (FOV). The sensitivity, scatter fraction, and noise equivalent count rate (NECR) were measured for different energy windows. With an energy window of 150 – 650 keV and a timing window of 20 ns optimized for mouse imaging, the peak absolute sensitivity was 3.99% at the center of FOV and a peak NECR of 20 kcps was achieved for a total activity of 3.2 MBq (86.8 μCi). Phantom and in vivo imaging studies were performed and demonstrated the utility of the system at low activity levels. The quantitation capabilities of the system were also characterized showing that despite the limited angle tomography, reasonably good quantification accuracy was achieved over a large dynamic range of activity levels.
The presented results demonstrate the potential of this new tomograph for small animal imaging.
Positron emission tomography; PET; Small animal imaging; Performance evaluation
PETbox is a low cost bench top preclinical PET scanner dedicated to pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic mouse studies. A prototype system was developed at our institute, and this manuscript characterizes the performance of the prototype system.
The PETbox detector consists of a 20 × 44 bismuth germanate crystal array with a thickness of 5 mm and cross-section size of 2.05 × 2.05 mm. Two such detectors are placed facing each other at a spacing of 5 cm, forming a dual-head geometry optimized for imaging mice. The detectors are kept stationary during the scan, making PETbox a limited angle tomography system. 3D images are reconstructed using a maximum likelihood and expectation maximization (ML–EM) method. The performance of the prototype system was characterized based on a modified set of the NEMA NU 4-2008 standards.
In-plane image spatial resolution was measured to be an average of 1.53 mm full width at half maximum for coronal images and 2.65 mm for the anterior–posterior direction. The volumetric reconstructed resolution was below 8 mm3 at most locations in the field of view (FOV). The sensitivity, scatter fraction, and noise equivalent count rate (NECR) were measured for different energy windows. With an energy window of 150 - 650 keV and a timing window of 20 ns optimized for mouse imaging, the peak absolute sensitivity was 3.99% at the center of FOV and a peak NECR of 20 kcps was achieved for a total activity of 3.2 MBq (86.8 μCi). Phantom and in vivo imaging studies were performed and demonstrated the utility of the system at low activity levels. The quantitation capabilities of the system were also characterized showing that despite the limited angle tomography, reasonably good quantification accuracy was achieved over a large dynamic range of activity levels.
The presented results demonstrate the potential of this new tomograph for small animal imaging.
Positron emission tomography; PET; Small animal imaging; Performance evaluation
Coherent X-ray scattering is related to the electron density distribution by a Fourier transform, and therefore a window into the microscopic structures of biological samples. Current techniques of scattering rely on small-angle measurements from highly collimated X-ray beams produced from synchrotron light sources. Imaging of the distribution of scattering provides a new contrast mechanism which is different from absorption radiography, but is a lengthy process of raster or flue scans of the beam over the object. Here, we describe an imaging technique in the spatial frequency domain capable of acquiring both the scattering and absorption distributions in a single exposure. We present first results obtained with conventional X-ray equipment. This method interposes a grid between the X-ray source and the imaged object, so that the grid-modulated image contains a primary image and a grid harmonic image. The ratio between the harmonic and primary images is shown to be a pure scattering image. It is the auto-correlation of the electron density distribution at a specific distance. We tested a number of samples at 60–200 nm autocorrelation distance, and found the scattering images to be distinct from the absorption images and reveal new features. This technique is simple to implement, and should help broaden the imaging applications of X-ray scattering.
Diffraction; imaging; scatter; X-ray
In single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), the collimator is a crucial element of the imaging chain and controls the noise resolution tradeoff of the collected data. The current study is an evaluation of the effects of different thicknesses of a low-energy high-resolution (LEHR) collimator on tomographic spatial resolution in SPECT. In the present study, the SIMIND Monte Carlo program was used to simulate a SPECT equipped with an LEHR collimator. A point source of 99mTc and an acrylic cylindrical Jaszczak phantom, with cold spheres and rods, and a human anthropomorphic torso phantom (4D-NCAT phantom) were used. Simulated planar images and reconstructed tomographic images were evaluated both qualitatively and quantitatively. According to the tabulated calculated detector parameters, contribution of Compton scattering, photoelectric reactions, and also peak to Compton (P/C) area in the obtained energy spectrums (from scanning of the sources with 11 collimator thicknesses, ranging from 2.400 to 2.410 cm), we concluded the thickness of 2.405 cm as the proper LEHR parallel hole collimator thickness. The image quality analyses by structural similarity index (SSIM) algorithm and also by visual inspection showed suitable quality images obtained with a collimator thickness of 2.405 cm. There was a suitable quality and also performance parameters’ analysis results for the projections and reconstructed images prepared with a 2.405 cm LEHR collimator thickness compared with the other collimator thicknesses.
Image quality; low-energy high-resolution collimator; resolution; simulating medical imaging nuclear detectors; single photon emission computed tomography