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Parallax error caused by the detector crystal thickness degrades spatial resolution at the peripheral regions of the field-of-view (FOV) of a scanner. To resolve this issue, depth-of-interaction (DOI) measurement is a promising solution to improve the spatial resolution and its uniformity over the entire FOV. Even though DOI detectors have been used in dedicated systems with a small ring diameter such as for human brain, breast and small animals, the use of DOI detectors for a large bore whole-body PET system has not been demonstrated yet. We have developed a 4-layered DOI detector, and its potential for a brain dedicated system has been proven in our previous development. In the present work, we investigated the use of the 4-layer DOI detector for a large bore PET system by developing the world's first whole-body prototype. We evaluated its performance characteristics in accordance with the NEMA NU 2 standard. Furthermore, the impact of incorporating DOI information was evaluated with the NEMA NU 4 image quality phantom. Point source images were reconstructed with a filtered back projection (FBP), and an average spatial resolution of 5.2±0.7 mm was obtained. For the FBP image, the 4-layer DOI information improved the radial spatial resolution by 48% at the 20 cm offset position. The peak noise-equivalent count rate (NECR) was 22.9 kcps at 7.4 kBq/mL and the scatter fraction was 44%. The system sensitivity was 5.9 kcps/MBq. For the NEMA NU 2 image quality phantom, the 10-mm-sphere was clearly visualized without any artifacts. For the NEMA NU 4 image quality phantom, we measured the phantom at 0, 10 and 20 cm offset positions. As a result, we found the image with 4-layer DOI could visualize the 2-mm-diameter hot cylinder although it could not be recognized on the image without DOI. The average improvements in the recovery coefficients for the five hot rods (1-5 mm) were 0.3%, 4.4% and 26.3% at the 0, 10 and 20 cm offset positions, respectively (except for the 1-mm-diameter rod at the 20 cm offset position). Although several practical issues (such as adding end-shields) remain to be addressed before the scanner is ready for clinical use, we showed that the 4-layer DOI technology provided higher and more uniform spatial resolution over the FOV and improved contrast for small uptake regions located at the peripheral FOV, which could improve detectability of small and distal lesions such as nodal metastases, especially in obese patients.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Physics in medicine and biology
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