Molecular Imaging Instrumentation Laboratory  

Development of a Cardiac-Dedicated PET System

We propose to develop a positron emission tomography (PET) system dedicated to cardiovascular studies. PET is most known for its use in oncology applications. But its use in managing cardiovascular disease, currently in myocardial perfusion and viability studies, has seen recent growth and, a result, expanded Medicare coverage.

Long-term Hypothesis: The proposed cardiac-dedicated PET system will enable substantial system performance enhancements that will increase PET’s role in management of cardiovascular disease by (1) increasing the accuracy of currently-performed clinical myocardial perfusion and viability studies and (2) enabling emerging cardiovascular disease assays on the horizon such as imaging vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques in coronary artery disease and monitoring cardiac-stem cell therapy.

Technology Hypothesis: Using new technologies it is possible to develop a cardiac-dedicated PET system with two-fold improvement in coincidence photon detection sensitivity, four-fold enhancement in image signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), three to six-fold improvement in reconstructed spatial resolution (2-3 mm vs. 7-12 mm), and 3-fold lower cost compared to existing clinical whole body scanners. This novel system comprises two panels that can be placed on opposite sides of and in contact with the body, enabling efficient, high resolution, close-proximity imaging of the heart. The full system will have a 24x18 cm2 area for the front panel (closest to the heart) and 36x27 cm2 for the back. Since the distance from the front panel to the center of the heart is about 1/3 of the distance to the back panel, the two panels will have different intrinsic resolutions, 2 and 3 mm, respectively, to enable a magnifying-like effect from the small panel onto the larger panel.


The specific aims of this proposal focus on addressing issues related to the stated technology hypothesis including: 1) Explore an advanced PET detector module based on digital silicon photomultipliers (SiPM) that has both photon depth-of-interaction (DOI) and time-of-flight (TOF) capabilities; 2) Study a method to multiplex the readout of detector modules to reduce system complexity; 3) Investigate a data acquisition system based on a 2.5/10 Gb/s optical link; 4) Construct a one-quarter sub-system of the dual panel system for proof-of-principle; 5) Perform tomographic imaging tests.

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