Heads up: Helmet-sized scanner could be the future of PET imaging

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Researchers are inching closer to the development of a wearable, helmet-like PET scanner capable of substantially increasing sensitivity and reducing patient exposure to radiation, according to results of a simulation study recently published online in the journal  Physics in Medicine and Biology.

Researchers led by Kuang Gong, PhD, of the University of California, Davis, tested three different ambulatory microdose PET designs—a helmet suspended by an ecostructure support, a backpack support and a helmet to be worn while seated—using simulations of varying configurations to assess sensitivity, resolution and image accuracy.

They found that the seated version of the helmet-sized scanner performed best out of the three designs, increasing sensitivity by more than 400 percent as well as substantially lowering radiation dose when compared to traditional whole-body PET scanners.

“Reconstructed phantom images demonstrated the improvement in image quality as a result of the higher sensitivity of the helmet scanner,” the researchers concluded. “Future work will examine the performance of the helmet PET for specific applications in brain imaging.”

Gong and his team plan to develop a prototype scanner, which they hope could someday help researchers better understand the brain and advance neuroscience.

Read the full study.