With the increasing use of in vivo imaging in mouse models of disease, there are many interesting applications that demand imaging of organs and tissues with submillimeter resolution. Though there are other contributing factors, the spatial resolution in small-animal PET is still largely determined by the detector pixel dimensions.
Methods: In this work, a pair of lutetium oxyorthosilicate (LSO) arrays with 0.5-mm pixels was coupled to multichannel photomultiplier tubes and evaluated for use as high-resolution PET detectors.
Results: Flood histograms demonstrated that most crystals were clearly identifiable. Energy resolution varied from 22% to 38%. The coincidence timing resolution was 1.42-ns full width at half maximum (FWHM). The intrinsic spatial resolution was 0.68-mm FWHM as measured with a 30-gauge needle filled with (18)F. The improvement in spatial resolution in a tomographic setting is demonstrated using images of a line source phantom reconstructed with filtered backprojection and compared with images obtained from 2 dedicated small-animal PET scanners. Finally, a projection image of the mouse foot is shown to demonstrate the application of these 0.5-mm LSO detectors to a biologic task.
Conclusion: A pair of highly pixelated LSO detections has been constructed and characterized for use as high-spatial-resolution PET detectors. It appears that small-animal PET systems capable of a FWHM spatial resolution of 600 microm or less are feasible and should be pursued.