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Med Phys. 2010 Nov;37(11):5838-49.

Physical effects of mechanical design parameters on photon sensitivity and spatial resolution performance of a breast-dedicated PET system.

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Department of Radiology and the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5128, USA.



This study aims to address design considerations of a high resolution, high sensitivity positron emission tomography scanner dedicated to breast imaging.


The methodology uses a detailed Monte Carlo model of the system structures to obtain a quantitative evaluation of several performance parameters. Special focus was given to the effect of dense mechanical structures designed to provide mechanical robustness and thermal regulation to the minuscule and temperature sensitive detectors.


For the energies of interest around the photopeak (450-700 keV energy window), the simulation results predict a 6.5% reduction in the single photon detection efficiency and a 12.5% reduction in the coincidence photon detection efficiency in the case that the mechanical structures are interspersed between the detectors. However for lower energies, a substantial increase in the number of detected events (approximately 14% and 7% for singles at a 100-200 keV energy window and coincidences at a lower energy threshold of 100 keV, respectively) was observed with the presence of these structures due to backscatter. The number of photon events that involve multiple interactions in various crystal elements is also affected by the presence of the structures. For photon events involving multiple interactions among various crystal elements, the coincidence photon sensitivity is reduced by as much as 20% for a point source at the center of the field of view. There is no observable effect on the intrinsic and the reconstructed spatial resolution and spatial resolution uniformity.


Mechanical structures can have a considerable effect on system sensitivity, especially for systems processing multi-interaction photon events. This effect, however, does not impact the spatial resolution. Various mechanical structure designs are currently under evaluation in order to achieve optimum trade-off between temperature stability, accurate detector positioning, and minimum influence on system performance.

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