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Development of a small-animal positron emission tomograph with silicon photomultipliers


Positron emission tomography (PET) is a medical imaging technique widely employed in several fields such as oncology, neurology, cardiology and, more recently, for the study of new pharmaceuticals in small rodents.
The motivation to strive for an ever better performance leads one to continually seek new advances in detector system technology.
The design of a novel, high-resolution camera for a small-animal PET imaging system employing silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) has been proposed. The detector, based upon the classic Anger camera principle, consists of a continuous slab of scintillator viewed by a matrix of SiPMs. A SiPM is a silicon diode detector that shows great promise as a photodetector for scintillators and hence application in nuclear medicine im aging.
Their characteristics make them extremely interesting candidates to replace currently employed photomultiplier tubes. The use of a continuous crystal is desirable in comparison with pixelated systems currently employed, since it avoids the problems of worse energy resolution and increased cost that arise when the pixels size is reduced. A detector head of 4x4 cm2 in area is proposed, constructed from three such modules of the continuous camera described above. The stacked layers would give the system intrinsic depth of interaction (DOI) information. Tests of the SiPMs have been carried out, and simulations performed predict a spatial resolution of about 0.6 mm FWHM. The main objective of this proposal is the construction of a detector system with two (four) such camera heads in order to demonstrate the simulated results.
The work will start with tests of SiPMs and arrays of SiPMs, with the final goal of a multilayer head. Appropriate image reconstruction algorithms need also be developed in order to take full advantage of the DOI information. A software method to improve the spatial resolution close to the camera edges will also be developed.

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Largo Bruno Pontecorvo 3

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