Radiation detectors in nuclear medicine

Radiographics. 1999 Mar-Apr;19(2):481-502. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.19.2.g99mr30481.


Single-photon-emitting or positron-emitting radionuclides employed in nuclear medicine are detected by using sophisticated imaging devices, whereas simpler detection devices are used to quantify activity for the following applications: measuring doses of radiopharmaceuticals, performing radiotracer bioassays, and monitoring and controlling radiation risk in the clinical environment. Detectors are categorized in terms of function, the physical state of the transducer, or the mode of operation. The performance of a detector is described by the parameters efficiency, energy resolution and discrimination, and dead time. A detector may be used to detect single events (pulse mode) or to measure the rate of energy deposition (current mode). Some detectors are operated as simple counting systems by using a single-channel pulse height analyzer to discriminate against background or other extraneous events. Other detectors are operated as spectrometers and use a multichannel analyzer to form an energy spectrum. The types of detectors encountered in nuclear medicine are gas-filled detectors, scintillation detectors, and semiconductor detectors. The ionization detector, Geiger-Müller detector, extremity and area monitor, dose calibrator, well counter, thyroid uptake probe, Anger scintillation camera, positron emission tomographic scanner, solid-state personnel dosimeter, and intraoperative probe are examples of detectors used in clinical nuclear medicine practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Physics
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Medicine*
  • Radiation Monitoring / instrumentation*