Monte Carlo-based quantitative pinhole SPECT reconstruction using a ray-tracing back-projector

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Background: Monte Carlo simulations provide accurate models of nuclear medicine imaging systems as they can properly account for the full physics of photon transport. The accuracy of the model included in the maximum-likelihood–expectation-maximization (ML-EM) reconstruction limits the overall accuracy of the reconstruction results. In this paper, we present a Monte Carlo-based ML-EM reconstruction method for pinhole single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) that has been incorporated into the SIMIND Monte Carlo program. The Monte Carlo-based model, which accounts for all of the physical and geometrical characteristics of the camera system, is used in the forward-projection step of the reconstruction, while a simpler model based on ray-tracing is used for back-projection. The aim of this work was to investigate the quantitative accuracy of this combination of forward- and back-projectors in the clinical pinhole camera GE Discovery NM 530c. Results: The total activity was estimated in 99mTc-filled spheres with volumes between 0.5 and 16 mL. The total sphere activity was generally overestimated but remained within 10% of the reference activity defined by the phantom preparation. The recovered activity converged towards the reference activity as the number of iterations increased. Furthermore, the recovery of the activity concentrations within the physical boundaries of the spheres increased with increasing sphere volume. Additionally, the Monte Carlo-based reconstruction enabled recovery of the true activity concentration in the myocardium of a cardiac phantom mounted in a torso phantom regardless of whether the torso was empty or water-filled. A qualitative comparison to data reconstructed using the clinical reconstruction algorithm showed that the two methods performed similarly, although the images reconstructed using the clinical software were more uniform due to the incorporation of noise regularization and post-filtration in that reconstruction technique. Conclusions: We developed a Monte Carlo-based reconstruction method for pinhole SPECT and evaluated it using phantom measurements. The combination of a Monte Carlo-based forward-projector and a simplified analytical ray-tracing back-projector produced quantitative images of acceptable image quality. No explicit calibration is necessary in this method since the forward-projector model maintains a relationship between the number of counts and activity.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medical Image Processing


  • Dual-matrix reconstruction, Monte Carlo simulations, Monte Carlo-based reconstruction, Myocardial perfusion SPECT imaging, Pinhole SPECT reconstruction, SPECT reconstruction
Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalEJNMMI Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 15
Publication categoryResearch