Proof-of-concept prototype time-of-flight PET system based on high-quantum-efficiency multianode PMTs

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Abstract

Purpose:

Time-of-flight (TOF) information in positron emission tomography (PET) scanners enhances the diagnostic power of PET scans owing to the increased signal-to-noise ratio of reconstructed images. There are numerous additional benefits of TOF reconstruction, including the simultaneous estimation of activity and attenuation distributions from emission data only. Exploring further TOF gains by using TOF PET scanners is important because it can broaden the applications of PET scans and expand our understanding of TOF techniques. Herein, we present a prototype TOF PET scanner with fine-time performance that can experimentally demonstrate the benefits of TOF information.

Methods:

A single-ring PET system with a coincidence resolving time of 360 ps and a spatial resolution of 3.1/2.2 mm (filtered backprojection/ordered-subset expectation maximization) was developed. The scanner was based on advanced high-quantum-efficiency (high-QE) multianode photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). The impact of its fine-time performance was demonstrated by evaluating body phantom images reconstructed with and without TOF information. Moreover, the feasibility of the scanner as an experimental validator of TOF gains was verified by investigating the improvement of images under various conditions, such as the use of joint estimation algorithms of activity and attenuation, erroneous data correction factors (e.g., without normalization correction), and incompletely sampled data.

Results:

The prototype scanner showed excellent performance, producing improved phantom images, when TOF information was employed in the reconstruction process. In addition, investigation of the TOF benefits using the phantom data in different conditions verified the usefulness of the developed system for demonstrating the practical effects of TOF reconstruction.

Conclusions:

We developed a prototype TOF PET scanner with good performance and a fine-timing resolution based on advanced high-QE multianode PMTs and demonstrated its feasibility as an experimental validator of TOF gains, suggesting its usefulness for investigating new applications of PET scans and clarifying TOF techniques in detail.

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