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We present the complete image generation methodology developed for the RatCAP PET scanner, which can be extended to other PET systems for which a Monte Carlo-based system model is feasible. The miniature RatCAP presents a unique set of advantages as well as challenges for image processing, and a combination of conventional methods and novel ideas developed specifically for this tomograph have been implemented. The crux of our approach is a low-noise Monte Carlo-generated probability matrix with integrated corrections for all physical effects that impact PET image quality. The generation and optimization of this matrix are discussed in detail, along with the estimation of correction factors and their incorporation into the reconstruction framework. Phantom studies and Monte Carlo simulations are used to evaluate the reconstruction as well as individual corrections for random coincidences, photon scatter, attenuation, and detector efficiency variations in terms of bias and noise. Finally, a realistic rat brain phantom study reconstructed using this methodology is shown to recover >; 90% of the contrast for hot as well as cold regions. The goal has been to realize the potential of quantitative neuroreceptor imaging with the RatCAP.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2011