Positron Emission Tomography

Although the potential of positron imaging was recognized as early as the 1950s, its actual tomographic mode imaging began only after X-ray CT was developed in 1972. PET is a brilliant example of a joint effort of many disciplines, including physics, electronic instrumentation, and computers. PET requires short-lived cyclotron-produced radionuclides and the appropriate labeling of these radionuclides to suitable radiopharmaceuticals that can be administered to the human body, as well as instrumentation for the detection of annihilation photons and appropriate signal processing to provide highresolution images. Small cyclotrons are now available for use in medical facilities. Advances in the rapid chemical synthesis of radiopharmaceuticals now permit a large number of labeled compounds to be used in positron imaging. Above all, there has been phenomenal growth in PET instrumentation research and development in recent years; a few system designs are potentially capable of imaging with a resolution as high as 2 to 3 mm full width at half-maximum (FWHM).

This section is devoted to the instrumentation aspects of PET and is divided into three parts. The first part introduces some basic principles, the second deals with various physical factors affecting system performance, and the third discusses the evolution of PET system designs.

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