Microscopic nuclear imaging down to spatial resolutions of a few hundred microns can already be achieved using low-energy gamma emitters (e.g. 125I, ∼30 keV) and a basic single micro-pinhole gamma camera. This has been applied to in vivo mouse thyroid imaging, for example. For clinically used radionuclides such as 99mTc, this approach fails due to penetration of the higher-energy gamma photons through the pinhole edges. To overcome these resolution degradation effects, we propose a new imaging approach: scanning focus nuclear microscopy (SFNM). We assess SFNM using Monte Carlo simulations for clinically used isotopes. SFNM is based on the use of a 2D scanning stage with a focused multi-pinhole collimator containing 42 pinholes with narrow pinhole aperture opening angles to reduce photon penetration. All projections of different positions are used to iteratively reconstruct a three-dimensional image from which synthetic planar images are generated. SFNM imaging was tested using a digital Derenzo resolution phantom and a mouse ankle joint phantom containing 99mTc (140 keV). The planar images were compared with those obtained using a single-pinhole collimator, either with matched pinhole diameter or with matched sensitivity. The simulation results showed an achievable 99mTc image resolution of 0.04 mm and detailed 99mTc bone images of a mouse ankle with SFNM. SFNM has strong advantages over single-pinhole imaging in terms of spatial resolution.
- high resolution
- nuclear microscope