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We present an initial evaluation of a mechanically cooled, high-purity germanium double-sided strip detector as a potential gamma camera for small-animal SPECT. It is 90 mm in diameter and 10 mm thick with two sets of 16 orthogonal strips that have a 4.5 mm width with a 5 mm pitch. We found an energy resolution of 0.96% at 140 keV, an intrinsic efficiency of 43.3% at 122 keV and a FWHM spatial resolution of approximately 1.5 mm. We demonstrated depth-of-interaction estimation capability through comparison of pinhole acquisitions with a point source on and off axes. Finally, a flood-corrected flood image exhibited a strip-level uniformity of less than 1%. This high-purity germanium offers many desirable properties for small-animal SPECT.
The development of radiation detectors capable of delivering spatial information about gamma-ray interactions was one of the key enabling technologies for nuclear medicine imaging and, eventually, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The continuous sodium iodide scintillator crystal coupled to an array of photomultiplier tubes, almost universally referred to as the Anger Camera after its inventor, has long been the dominant SPECT detector system. Nevertheless, many alternative materials and configurations have been investigated over the years. Technological advances as well as the emerging importance of specialized applications, such as cardiac and preclinical imaging, have spurred innovation such that alternatives to the Anger Camera are now part of commercial imaging systems. Increased computing power has made it practical to apply advanced signal processing and estimation schemes to make better use of the information contained in the detector signals. In this review we discuss the key performance properties of SPECT detectors and survey developments in both scintillator and semiconductor detectors and their readouts with an eye toward some of the practical issues at least in part responsible for the continuing prevalence of the Anger Camera in the clinic.