High-resolution tomography of positron emitters with clustered pinhole SPECT

Phys Med Biol. 2010 Mar 7;55(5):1265-77. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/55/5/001. Epub 2010 Feb 4.


State-of-the-art small-animal single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) enables sub-half-mm resolution imaging of radio-labelled molecules. Due to severe photon penetration through pinhole edges, current multi-pinhole SPECT is not suitable for high-resolution imaging of photons with high energies, such as the annihilation photons emitted by positron emitting tracers (511 keV). To deal with this edge penetration, we introduce here clustered multi-pinhole SPECT (CMP): each pinhole in a cluster has a narrow opening angle to reduce photon penetration. Using simulations, CMP is compared with (i) a collimator with traditional pinholes that is currently used for sub-half-mm imaging of SPECT isotopes (U-SPECT-II), and (ii), like (i) but with collimator thickness adapted to image high-energy photons (traditional multi-pinhole SPECT, TMP). At 511 keV, U-SPECT-II is able to resolve the 0.9 mm rods of an iteratively reconstructed Jaszczak-like capillary hot rod phantom, and while TMP only leads to small improvements, CMP can resolve rods as small as 0.7 mm. Using a digital tumour phantom, we show that CMP resolves many details not assessable with standard USPECT-II and TMP collimators. Furthermore, CMP makes it possible to visualize uptake of positron emitting tracers in sub-compartments of a digital mouse striatal brain phantom. This may open up unique possibilities for analysing processes such as those underlying the function of neurotransmitter systems. Additional potential of CMP may include (i) the imaging of other high-energy single-photon emitters (e.g. I-131) and (ii) localized imaging of positron emitting tracers simultaneously with single photon emitters, with an even better resolution than coincidence PET.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Neostriatum / diagnostic imaging
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Tomography / methods*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*