Monte Carlo simulation of PET and SPECT imaging of 90Y




Yittrium-90 (90Y) is traditionally thought of as a pure beta emitter, and is used in targeted radionuclide therapy, with imaging performed using bremsstrahlung single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). However, because 90Y also emits positrons through internal pair production with a very small branching ratio, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging is also available. Because of the insufficient image quality of 90Y bremsstrahlung SPECT, PET imaging has been suggested as an alternative. In this paper, the authors present the Monte Carlo-based simulation–reconstruction framework for 90Y to comprehensively analyze the PET and SPECT imaging techniques and to quantitatively consider the disadvantages associated with them.


Our PET and SPECT simulation modules were developed using Monte Carlo simulation of Electrons and Photons (MCEP), developed by Dr. S. Uehara. PET code (MCEP-PET) generates a sinogram, and reconstructs the tomography image using a time-of-flight ordered subset expectation maximization (TOF-OSEM) algorithm with attenuation compensation. To evaluate MCEP-PET, simulated results of 18F PET imaging were compared with the experimental results. The results confirmed that MCEP-PET can simulate the experimental results very well. The SPECT code (MCEP-SPECT) models the collimator and NaI detector system, and generates the projection images and projection data. To save the computational time, the authors adopt the prerecorded 90Y bremsstrahlung photon data calculated by MCEP. The projection data are also reconstructed using the OSEM algorithm. The authors simulated PET and SPECT images of a water phantom containing six hot spheres filled with different concentrations of 90Y without background activity. The amount of activity was 163 MBq, with an acquisition time of 40 min.


The simulated 90Y-PET image accurately simulated the experimental results. PET image is visually superior to SPECT image because of the low background noise. The simulation reveals that the detected photon number in SPECT is comparable to that of PET, but the large fraction (approximately 75%) of scattered and penetration photons contaminates SPECT image. The lower limit of 90Y detection in SPECT image was approximately 200 kBq/ml, while that in PET image was approximately 100 kBq/ml.


By comparing the background noise level and the image concentration profile of both the techniques, PET image quality was determined to be superior to that of bremsstrahlung SPECT. The developed simulation codes will be very useful in the future investigations of PET and bremsstrahlung SPECT imaging of 90Y.