MicroPET II: design, development and initial performance of an improved microPET scanner for small-animal imaging
MicroPET II is a second-generation animal PET scanner designed for high-resolution imaging of small laboratory rodents. The system consists of 90 scintillation detector modules arranged in three contiguous axial rings with a ring diameter of 16.0 cm and an axial length of 4.9 cm. Each detector module consists of a 14 x 14 array of lutetium oxyorthosilicate (LSO) crystals coupled to a multi-channel photomultiplier tube (MC-PMT) through a coherent optical fibre bundle. Each LSO crystal element measures 0.975 mm x 0.975 mm in cross section by 12.5 mm in length. A barium sulphate reflector material was used between LSO elements leading to a detector pitch of 1.15 mm in both axial and transverse directions. Fused optical fibre bundles were made from 90 mum diameter glass fibres with a numerical aperture of 0.56. Interstitial extramural absorber was added between the fibres to reduce optical cross talk. A charge-division readout circuit was implemented on printed circuit boards to decode the 196 crystals in each array from the outputs of the 64 anode signals of the MC-PMT. Electronics from Concorde Microsystems Inc. (Knoxville, TN) were used for signal amplification, digitization, event qualification, coincidence processing and data capture. Coincidence data were passed to a host PC that recorded events in list mode. Following acquisition, data were sorted into sinograms and reconstructed using Fourier rebinning and filtered backprojection algorithms. Basic evaluation of the system has been completed. The absolute sensitivity of the microPET II scanner was 2.26% at the centre of the field of view (CFOV) for an energy window of 250-750 keV and a timing window of 10 ns. The intrinsic spatial resolution of the detectors in the system averaged 1.21 mm full width at half maximum (FWHM) when measured with a Na-22 point source 0.5 mm in diameter. Reconstructed image resolution ranged from 0.83 mm FWHM at the CFOV to 1.47 mm FWHM in the radial direction, 1.17 mm FWHM in the tangential direction and 1.42 mm FWHM in the axial direction at 1 cm offset from the CFOV. These values represent highly significant improvements over our earlier microPET scanner (approximately fourfold sensitivity increase and 25-35% improvement in linear spatial resolution under equivalent operating conditions) and are expected to be further improved when the system is fully optimized.