Purpose: Multiple investigators have recently reported the use of yttrium-90 (90Y) bremsstrahlung single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging for the dosimetry of targeted radionuclide therapies. Because Monte Carlo (MC) simulations are useful for studying SPECT imaging, this study investigates the MC simulation of 90Y bremsstrahlung photons in SPECT. To overcome the computationally expensive simulation of electrons, the authors propose a fast way to simulate the emission of 90Y bremsstrahlung photons based on prerecorded bremsstrahlung photon probability density functions (PDFs).
Methods: The accuracy of bremsstrahlung photon simulation is evaluated in two steps. First, the validity of the fast bremsstrahlung photon generator is checked. To that end, fast and analog simulations of photons emitted from a 90Y point source in a water phantom are compared. The same setup is then used to verify the accuracy of the bremsstrahlung photon simulations, comparing the results obtained with PDFs generated from both simulated and measured data to measurements. In both cases, the energy spectra and point spread functions of the photons detected in a scintillation camera are used.
Results: Results show that the fast simulation method is responsible for a 5% overestimation of the low-energy fluence (below 75 keV) of the bremsstrahlung photons detected using a scintillation camera. The spatial distribution of the detected photons is, however, accurately reproduced with the fast method and a computational acceleration of approximately 17-fold is achieved. When measured PDFs are used in the simulations, the simulated energy spectrum of photons emitted from a point source of 90Y in a water phantom and detected in a scintillation camera closely approximates the measured spectrum. The PSF of the photons imaged in the 50-300 keV energy window is also accurately estimated with a 12.4% underestimation of the full width at half maximum and 4.5% underestimation of the full width at tenth maximum.
Conclusions: Despite its limited accuracy, the fast bremsstrahlung photon generator is well suited for the simulation of bremsstrahlung photons emitted in large homogeneous organs, such as the liver, and detected in a scintillation camera. The computational acceleration makes it very useful for future investigations of 90Y bremsstrahlung SPECT imaging.