In the past decade, demands for organ specific (target oriented) single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is increasing, and several groups have conducted studies on developing clinical dedicated SPECT with pinhole collimator to improve the spatial resolution. However, acceptance angle of the collimator cannot be adjusted to fit the different ROIs of target objects because the shape of pinhole could not be changed, and the magnifying factor cannot be maximized as the collimator-to-detector distance is fixed. Furthermore, those dedicated pinhole SPECTs are typically made for a single purpose and therefore possess a drawback in that it cannot be utilized for any other purpose. In this study, we propose a novel SPECT system using variable pinhole collimator (VP SPECT) whose parameters are flexible.Methods:
The proposed variable pinhole collimator is modeled on conventional pinhole by piling several tungsten layers of different apertures. Depending on the combination of the holes in each layer, a variety of hole diameters and acceptance angles of the pinhole can be made. In addition, VP SPECT system allows attaching the collimator to the object as close as possible to maximize the sensitivity and adjust the distance of the pinhole from the scintillation detector to optimize the system resolution for each rotation angle, automatically. For quantitative measurement, we compared the sensitivity and spatial resolution of VP SPECT with those of conventional pinhole SPECT. To determine the possibility of the clinical and preclinical use of proposed system, a digital mouse whole-body (MOBY) phantom is used for simulating the live mouse model.Results:
The result of simulation using ultra-micro hot spot phantom shows that the sensitivity of the proposed VP SPECT system is about 297% of that of the conventional system. While hot rods of diameter 0.6 mm can be distinguished in the image with the proposed VP SPECT system, 1.2-mm hot rods are barely discernible in the conventional pinhole SPECT image. According to the result of MOBY phantom simulation, heart walls separated by 3 mm were not distinguished in conventional pinhole SPECT images, but were clearly discerned in VP SPECT images.Conclusions:
In this study, we designed a novel pinhole collimator for SPECT and presented preliminary results of target oriented imaging with a simulation study. Currently, we are pursuing strategies to realize the proposed system, with the goal to apply the technology into a high-sensitivity and high-resolution preclinical SPECT. Should VP SPECT be applied to the clinical setting, we anticipate a high-sensitivity, high-resolution system for applications such as heart dedicated SPECT or related fields.