Recent developments and future trends in nuclear medicine instrumentation

Z Med Phys. 2006;16(1):5-17. doi: 10.1078/0939-3889-00288.


Molecular imaging using high-resolution single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) has advanced elegantly and has steadily gained importance in the clinical and research arenas. Continuous efforts to integrate recent research findings for the design of different geometries and various detector technologies of SPECT and PET cameras have become the goal of both the academic comcameras have become the goal of both the academic community and nuclear medicine industry. As PET has recently become of more interest for clinical practice, several different design trends seem to have developed. Systems are being designed for "low cost" clinical applications, very high-resolution research applications (including small-animal imaging), and just about everywhere in-between. The development of dual-modality imaging systems has revolutionized the practice of nuclear medicine. The major advantage being that SPECT/PET data are intrinsically aligned to anatomical information from the X-ray computed tomography (CT), without the use of external markers or internal landmarks. On the other hand, combining PET with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology is scientifically more challenging owing to the strong magnetic fields. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made resulting in the design of a prototype small animal PET scanner coupled to three multichannel photomultipliers via optical fibers, so that the PET detector can be operated within a conventional MR system. Thus, many different design paths are being pursued--which ones are likely to be the main stream of future commercial systems? It will be interesting, indeed, to see which technologies become the most popular in the future. This paper briefly summarizes state-of-the art developments in nuclear medicine instrumentation. Future prospects will also be discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nuclear Medicine / instrumentation*
  • Nuclear Medicine / trends*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Radiopharmaceuticals