Nuclear medicine physics
Collimator design for a multipinhole brain SPECT insert for MRI
Brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging is an important clinical tool, with unique tracers for studying neurological diseases. Nowadays, most commercial SPECT systems are combined with x-ray computed tomography (CT) in so-called SPECT/CT systems to obtain an anatomical background for the functional information. However, while CT images have a high spatial resolution, they have a low soft-tissue contrast, which is an important disadvantage for brain imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), on the other hand, has a very high soft-tissue contrast and does not involve extra ionizing radiation. Therefore, the authors designed a brain SPECT insert that can operate inside a clinical MRI.
The authors designed and simulated a compact stationary multipinhole SPECT insert based on digital silicon photomultiplier detector modules, which have shown to be MR-compatible and have an excellent intrinsic resolution (0.5 mm) when combined with a monolithic 2 mm thick LYSO crystal. First, the authors optimized the different parameters of the SPECT system to maximize sensitivity for a given target resolution of 7.2 mm in the center of the field-of-view, given the spatial constraints of the MR system. Second, the authors performed noiseless simulations of two multipinhole configurations to evaluate sampling and reconstructed resolution. Finally, the authors performed Monte Carlo simulations and compared the SPECT insert with a clinical system with ultrahigh-resolution (UHR) fan beam collimators, based on contrast-to-noise ratio and a visual comparison of a Hoffman phantom with a 9 mm cold lesion.
The optimization resulted in a stationary multipinhole system with a collimator radius of 150.2 mm and a detector radius of 172.67 mm, which corresponds to four rings of 34 diSPM detector modules. This allows the authors to include eight rings of 24 pinholes, which results in a system volume sensitivity of 395 cps/MBq. Noiseless simulations show sufficient axial sampling (in a Defrise phantom) and a reconstructed resolution of 5.0 mm (in a cold-rod phantom). The authors compared the 24-pinhole setup with a 34-pinhole system (with the same detector radius but a collimator radius of 156.63 mm) and found that 34 pinholes result in better uniformity but a worse reconstruction of the cold-rod phantom. The authors also compared the 24-pinhole system with a clinical triple-head UHR fan beam system based on contrast-to-noise ratio and found that the 24-pinhole setup performs better for the 6 mm hot and the 16 mm cold lesions and worse for the 8 and 10 mm hot lesions. Finally, the authors reconstructed noisy projection data of a Hoffman phantom with a 9 mm cold lesion and found that the lesion was slightly better visible on the multipinhole image compared to the fan beam image.
The authors have optimized a stationary multipinhole SPECT insert for MRI and showed the feasibility of doing brain SPECT imaging inside a MRI with an image quality similar to the best clinical SPECT systems available.