A GATE Simulation Study of the Siemens Biograph DUO PET/CT System


This is a GATE-simulation study of the Siemens Biograph DUO PET/CT system. It reports effects of changes in the thickness of the employed Lutetium Oxyorthosilicate(LSO) detectors. The PET/CT, a human body phantom and a cylindrical F-18 FDG source were simulated. Validation measurements were conducted. The results indicate that LSO thickness increase degrades spatial resolution, improves relative energy resolution from 9.0% to 11.3% and increases signal-to-noise-ratio from 0.81 to 1.17. Thicker LSO crystals present greater axial sensitivity so as the detection efficiency of PET would be significantly enhanced.

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Nikolopoulos, D. , Kottou, S. , Chatzisavvas, N. , Argyriou, X. , Vlamakis, E. , Yannakopoulos, P. and Louizi, A. (2013) A GATE Simulation Study of the Siemens Biograph DUO PET/CT System. Open Journal of Radiology, 3, 56-65. doi: 10.4236/ojrad.2013.32009.

1. Introduction

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a very powerful medical diagnostic method to observe the metabolism, blood flow, neurotransmission and handling of important biochemical entities [1]. Among the various scintillation detectors employed in commercial PET systems, Be4Ge3O12 (BGO) was for a long time the state of the art [2,3]. LuSiO5 (LSO) has become the best competitor of BGO [1,3-5], mainly due to its high detection efficiency. Other PET systems employ other scintillators, such as Gd2SiO5 (GSO), LuAlO3 (Lu AP), YAlO3 (YAP) and Y3Al5O12 (YAG) [1,3,4]. What’s remarkable is the recent interest in introducing new scintillators and detector designs for PET [2,3,6-10]. Significant improvements have been achieved in the overall PET imaging technology [1,3,4], e.g. algorithms for statistical effects, scatter and random coincidences, faster detector electronics and better reconstruction algorithms [1,3,11,12]. Modern PET scanners incorporate computed tomography (CT) systems to achieve more accurate anatomical localisation of functional abnormalities [12]. The hybrid PET/CT systems eliminate lengthy PET transmission scans and generate complex three dimensional images within few minutes. This improves count-rate, spatial resolution and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) [2,3,13]. At the same time it enhances clinical conditions, diagnosis, follow-up and therapy [12]. PET/CT technology is undergoing a rapid evolution. As the current technology becomes more widespread, it is likely that there will be a demand for PET designs of better performance and less cost [1,3]. This intensifies the interest for investigations on already employed PET scintillators [5,7,11,14-16] and in seeking applicability of new detector concepts. In designing and evaluating scintillation detectors for PET, it is of significance to determine the various phenomena that affect radiation detection [3,17]. What’s important is the emission and re-absorption of scatter and characteristic X-ray fluorescence radiation, bremsstrahlung and Auger and Koster-Kronig electrons [18]. This is because these phenomena occur apart from the primary interaction point and, as a result, render degradation of spatial resolution and image contrast [19]. In simulating the stochastic processes involved in radiation detection, the Monte Carlo techniques constitute a very efficient tool [4,17]. Several general Monte Carlo packages are available (e.g. PENELOPE, MCNP, EGSnrc MP, GEANT4) [17,19]. Their design is for complex and general geometries of particle showers; however, non-trivial coding is needed. Especially for PET, GATE (GEANT4 Application for Tomographic Emission) is more frequently used because of its flexibility for Tomographic simulations [11].

2. Materials and Methods

The present study focused on the Siemens Biograph DUO PET/CT. The study extended previous validated work [11,14,20] and performed a simulation of the entire PET/CT scanner using GATE. For the purpose of the study, a human body phantom and a cylindrical F-18 FDG source were also simulated. The work emphasises on changes that will be potentially induced if the thickness of the LSO detectors of the PET scanner is altered. For further validation, new experimental measurements were taken. The experimental setup was modeled with GATE and the corresponding outputs were compared with the actual measurements.

2.1. Description of the Simulated Scanner

The simulated Biograph DUO PET/CT is installed in the Diagnostic and Therapeutic Center of Athens, “Hygeia” (Greece). The scanner comprises a dual-slice Siemens Emotion CT scanner in tandem with an ECAT HR+ PET scanner. The HR+ has no septa and operates entirely in 3D mode. A new patient bed design allows a combined scan range for both PET and CT.

PET and CT acquisition and reconstruction run under a single protocol on one workstation [21]. The CT images are used for the correction of the PET data due to attenuation and scatter. The corrected PET data are reconstructed with the Fourier re-binning (FORE) algorithm and the attenuation-weighted ordered subset EM (AWOSEM) algorithm. The complete acquisition of both PET and CT data takes less than 30 min and the fused images are available for viewing within 5 min after the completion of the scan. The images are viewed on a separate fused image display station [20,21].

The detectors of the Siemens Biograph PET scanner are organised in: 1) buckets, 2) heads, 3) blocks and 4) arrays. The buckets are composed of sets of four heads. Each head contains three blocks and each block contains an 8 × 8 array of LSO crystals. The detector blocks are coupled to sets of four photomultiplier (PMT) tubes. The entire block-photomultiplier arrangement is repeated three times in stacked detector rings. The whole detector settlement finally sums up 48 heads and 144 blocks of 9216 LSO crystals coupled to 576 photomultiplier tubes.

The PET and CT scanners are separated through 2.5 cm thick lead arcs arranged around the detector setup [20,21]. Figure 1(a) presents the simulated scanner. Figures 1(b)-(k) illustrate schematically the parts of the PET detectors. Figure 1(l) presents the actual crystal-PMT

Figure 1. The investigated PET/CT Biograph DUO LSO scanner. (a) The actual installation in the Diagnostic and Therapeutic Center of Athens, “Hygeia” (Greece); (b)-(k) Geometrical simulation of various parts of the scanner; (l) The real 8 × 8 LSO array of the PET system; (m) The actual detector assembly; (n) One real detection block of the PET scanner system.

assembly and Figure 1(m) the real LSO detector assembly for coincidence measurements.

The dimensions of the actual PET/CT components are the following: 1) Entry port diameter of 70 cm for both PET and CT; 2) Overall tunnel length of 110 cm; 3) Combined scan range of 145 cm; 4) PET gantry radii between 35.0 cm and 53.5 cm and gantry height of 18.8 cm; 5) Buckets dimensions of 12 × 21.6 × 16.18 cm3; 6) Heads dimensions of 2 × 5.393 × 16.180 cm3; 7) Block dimensions of 5.393 × 5.393 × 10.5 cm3; 8) Arrays consisting of LSO crystals of dimensions 0.645 × 0.645 × 2.5 cm3; and 9) Photomultiplier tubes of radius 1.27 cm and height 7.9 cm.

2.2. Description of GATE

GATE is a GEANT4 based Monte-Carlo platform adapted to the field of Nuclear Medicine. Through a dedicated script language, it may simulate the passage of particles through matter and electromagnetic fields providing different levels of description, analysis and visualisation. It may simulate detector and source kinetics and other time-dependent phenomena rendering hence, the coherent description of acquisition processes and detector output pulses.

Detector response is modeled by a chain of processing modules comprising 1) the Adder which regroups the hits per volume into a pulse, 2) the Readout which regroups the pulses per block, 3) the Energy Response which simulates a Gaussian blurring of the energy spectrum of a pulse after the readout module, 4) the Spatial Response which provides the coincidence events and the lines of response (LOR) needed for the image reconstruction, 5) the Threshold Electronics which provide the cut-off energy windows and 6) the Dead Time which defines the dead-time behavior of the counting system.

2.3. Description of the Simulation

The GATE codes simulated the following parts: 1) the entire PET detector arrangement; 2) the light guides, photomultiplier tubes and related electronics; 3) the coincidence circuits and processors; 4) the digitizer; 5) the time-delay of PET; 6) the data processing systems; 7) the examination bed; 8) the PET gantry; 9) the PET motions (gantry, bed); 10) the shielding between PET and CT; 11) the shielding of the room; and 12) the CT image reconstruction process. Noteworthy is that CT was simulated so as to reproduce in the most efficient way the image acquisition and processing techniques followed during PET scanning.

Additionally software phantoms were simulated consisted of 1) a cylindrical source phantom of radius 1 mm and height 15 cm, homogeneously filled with F-18 FDG and 2) a human body phantom.

This phantom consisted of an ellipsoid of 8 cm minimum and 15 cm maximum radius mimicking the human main body (b-1), two cylinders of radius 5 cm and height 30 cm mimicking the human hands (b-2), a sphere of 14 cm radius mimicking the human head (b-3) and a cylindrical F-18 FDG source of 0.5 cm radius and 5 cm height settled around the centre of the ellipsoid-human torso. All software phantoms were computationally arranged in a manner that the central axis of the enclosed F-18 FDG source was aligned to the central axis of the gantry.

During simulation all interaction phenomena were allowed to occur with the following parameters: 1) crystal energy blurring: resolution of 0.26 at 511 keV; 2) detector characteristics: gamma ray absorption linear coefficient of 0.98, light output of 30,000 photons/MeV, intrinsic resolution of 0.088 and transfer efficiency coefficient of 0.28; 3) energy window: between 250 and 650 keV; 4) time resolution: coincidence window, dead time window of 120 ns and dead time offset of 700 ns; 5) F-18 FDG source half life of 6586.2 s; and 6) slice time of 1 s and acquisition time of 10 s.

Parameters 1) and 2) are equal to the manufacturer values. Parameters 3) to 4) are the values adopted during operation.

2.4. Validation

Validation measurements were derived with a cylindrical F-18 FDG source of 1 mm radius, 15 cm height and 29.6 MB qactivity for acquisition time of 10 s. The source was placed at the centre of the PET gantry. The validation measurements were imitated with the modeled source (software phantom a) which was computationally settled at the gantry’s centre. In order to increase computational accuracy, the modeled activity was set to 100 MBq. For further mimicking, simulated acquisition time was set to 10 s and the profiles of the four photomultiplier tubes were also generated through modeling for comparison. Further validation was performed by comparing simulation results of software phantoms (a) and (b) with those anticipated from the physics of PET imaging. Figures 2(a)-(c) present the actual experimentation during validation measurements. Figure 2(d) shows the simulated source (software phantom a). Figures 2(e) and (f) present two views of the human phantom (software phantom b).

3. Results and Discussion

Figure 3 presents the results of the additional validation experiments together with results of the similar software phantom of Figure 2(d). The normalised energy spectra of the four photomultiplier tubes in block 0 and bucket 0 (Figure 3(Ia)) were the actual spectra provided by the Siemens Biograph DUO PET/CT from validation measurements.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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