Evaluation of pinhole collimator materials for micron-resolution ex vivo SPECT

Phys Med Biol. 2019 May 16;64(10):105017. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/ab1618.


Pinhole collimation is widely recognized for offering superior resolution-sensitivity trade-off in SPECT imaging of small subjects. The newly developed EXIRAD-3D autoradiography technique (MILabs B.V.) based on a highly focusing multi-pinhole collimator achieves micron-resolution SPECT for cryo-cooled tissue samples. For such high resolutions, the choice of pinhole material may have a significant impact on images. Therefore, this paper aims to compare the performance of EXIRAD-3D with lead, tungsten, gold, and depleted uranium pinhole collimators designed such that they achieve equal sensitivities. Performance in terms of resolution is characterized for several radioisotopes, namely 111In (171 keV and 245 keV), 99mTc (140 keV), 201Tl (71 keV), and 125I (27 keV). Using Monte Carlo simulation, point spread functions were generated and their profiles as well as their full-width-at-half-maximum and full-width-at-tenth-maximum were determined and evaluated for different materials and isotopes. Additionally, simulated reconstructions of a Derenzo resolution phantom, validated with experimental data, were judged by assessment of the resolvable rods as well as a contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) analysis. Our results indicate that using materials with higher photon-stopping power yields images with better CNR for the studied isotopes with improvements ranging from 1.9% to 36.6%. Visual assessment on the reconstructed images suggests that for EXIRAD-3D, the tungsten collimator is generally a good choice for a wide range of SPECT isotopes. For relatively high-energy isotopes such as 111In, using gold inserts can be beneficial.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Indium Radioisotopes / analysis
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / analysis
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Thallium Radioisotopes / analysis
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / instrumentation*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*
  • Tungsten / chemistry*


  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Thallium Radioisotopes
  • Gold
  • Iodine-125
  • Thallium-201
  • Tungsten