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Design and Development of a High-Energy Gamma Camera for Use With NSECT Imaging: Feasibility for Breast Imaging

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9 Author(s)

A new spectroscopic imaging technique, neutron stimulated emission computed tomography (NSECT), is currently being developed to non-invasively and non-destructively measure and image elemental concentrations within the body. NSECT has potential for use in breast imaging as several studies have shown a link between elemental concentration and tumor status. In NSECT, a region of interest is illuminated with a high-energy (3-5 MeV) beam of neutrons that scatter inelastically with elemental nuclei within the body. The characteristic gamma rays that are emitted as the excited nuclei relax allow the identification of elements and the formation of elemental composition images. This imaging technique requires high-resolution and high-energy gamma spectroscopy; thereby eliminating current scintillation crystal based position sensitive gamma cameras. Instead, we propose to adapt high-energy gamma imaging techniques used in space-based imaging. A high purity germanium (HPGe) detector provides high-resolution energy spectra while a rotating modulation collimator (RMC) placed in front of the detector modulates the incoming signal to provide spatial information. Counting the number of gamma events at each collimator rotation angle allows for reconstruction of images. Herein we report on the design and testing of a prototype RMC, a Monte Carlo simulation of this camera, and the use of this simulation tool to access the feasibility of imaging a breast with such a camera. The prototype RMC was tested with a 22Na point source and verified that the RMC modulates the gamma rays in a predictable manner. The Monte Carlo simulation accurately modeled this behavior. Other simulations were used to accurately reconstruct images of a point source located within a 10 cm cube, suggesting NSECT's potential as a breast imaging method.

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Nuclear Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:54 ,  Issue: 5 )