Crystal scintillation gamma camera plates are widely used in Nuclear Medicine to image tissues containing gamma-emitting tracer compounds introduced into the patient. A matrix of photomultiplier tubes or other light sensors optically coupled directly to the detector or a window detect the scintillation photons produced in the crystal. The camera system electronics compute the locations of the scintillation events in the crystal and evaluate the corresponding intake of the tracer in the tissue. This information is expressed in the image.
Large area flat NaI(Tl) plates are traditionally used for SPECT. In 1998, Saint-Gobain produced a curved camera plate for UGM Medical for a dedicated PET system. The curved design brought the field of view closer to the body. Also during this time, thicker crystals were being used to image in both SPECT and PET modes. Thicker crystals, while improving high energy efficiency, tended to degrade low energy performance. The solution was cutting slots into the NaI(Tl) crystal to direct light to the photomultiplier tubes. This allows for excellent SPECT performance while still maintaining the improved efficiency for PET.
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