Performance of a PSPMT based detector for scintimammography

Phys Med Biol. 2000 Mar;45(3):781-800. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/45/3/315.


In breast scintigraphy, compact detectors with high intrinsic spatial resolution and small inactive peripheries can provide improvements in extrinsic spatial resolution, efficiency and contrast for small lesions relative to larger conventional cameras. We are developing a pixelated small field-of-view gamma camera for scintimammography. Extensive measurements of the imaging properties of a prototype system have been made, including spatial resolution, sensitivity, uniformity of response, geometric linearity and energy resolution. An anthropomorphic torso phantom providing a realistic breast exit gamma spectrum has been used in a qualitative study of lesion detectability. A new type of breast imaging system that combines scintimammography and digital mammography in a single upright unit has also been developed. The system provides automatic co-registration between the scintigram and the digital mammogram, obtained with the breast in a single configuration. Intrinsic spatial resolution was evaluated via calculation of the phase-dependent modulation transfer function (MTF). Measurements of extrinsic spatial resolution, sensitivity and uniformity of response were made for two types of parallel hole collimator using NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) protocols. Geometric linearity was quantified using a line input and least squares analysis of the measured line shape. Energy resolution was measured for seven different crystal types, and the effectiveness of optical grease coupling was assessed. Exit gamma spectra were obtained using a cadmium zinc telluride based spectrometer. These were used to identify appropriate radioisotope concentrations for the various regions of an anthropomorphic torso phantom, such that realistic scatter conditions could be obtained during phantom measurements. For prone scintimammography, a special imaging table was constructed that permits simultaneous imaging of both breasts, as well as craniocaudal views. A dedicated breast imaging system was also developed that permits simultaneous acquisition and superposition of planar gamma images and digital x-ray images. The intrinsic MTF is nonstationary, and is dependent on the phase relationship between the signal and the crystal array matrix. Averaged over all phases, the MTF is approximately 0.75, 0.57 and 0.40 at spatial frequencies of 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 cycles per cm, respectively. The phase averaged line spread function (LSF) has a FWHM value of 2.6 mm. Following uniformity corrections, the RMS deviations in flood images are only slightly greater than is predicted from counting statistics. Across an 80 mm section of the active area, the differential linearity is 0.83 mm and the absolute linearity 2.0 mm. Using an anthropomorphic torso phantom with detachable breasts, scatter radiation similar to that observed exiting the breast of scintimammography patients was observed. It was observed that scattered gamma rays can constitute the majority of the radiation incident on the detector, but that the scatter-to-primary ratio varies significantly across the field of view, being greatest in the caudal portion of the breast, where scatter from the liver is high. Using a lesion-to-breast concentration ratio of 6:1, a 1.0 cm3 simulated breast lesion was detectable in lateral images obtained with both the developmental camera and with a clinical camera, while a 0.35 cm3 lesion was detectable in neither. Utilization of the dual x-ray transmission, gamma emission breast imaging system greatly increases the conspicuity of scintimammographic lesions relative to prone imaging, as well as greatly facilitating the localization and identification of structures in the gamma image. The prototype imaging gamma detector exhibits spatial resolution superior to that of conventional cameras, and comparable uniformity of response and geometric linearity. Because of light losses in the crystals, the energy resolution is inferior to that of single crystal NaI(Tl) came

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Gamma Cameras*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mammography / instrumentation*
  • Mammography / methods*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radionuclide Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Scintillation Counting
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technetium
  • Technology, Radiologic
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Technetium