Positron emission detection systems have developed since their first use in the 1950s to the high-resolution, high-sensitivity tomographic devices that we have today. Configurations differ far more than for a gamma camera, with such variables as the choice of scintillation crystal, 2D or 3D acquisition mode capability, continuous or discrete detectors, full or partial surrounding of the patient, and a variety of transmission scanning arrangements and radioactive sources. In addition, PET instrumentation is an area that has continued to evolve rapidly, especially over the last decade, with the emphases on increasing sensitivity, improving resolution, and decreasing patient scanning times. This chapter discusses the issues that are determinants of PET system performance. Much of the discussion is based on circular tomographs with discrete detectors, however, the principles are applicable also to flat detector systems and rotating gamma camera PET systems.
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