Researchers have developed a camera to detect and image radioactive tracers used in PET and in SPECT scans at the same time, with the hope of enabling doctors to scan patients for abnormalities in less time, while reducing the amount of patient exposure to radiation.

Compton camera being tested at Kavli IPMU. (Credit: Kavli IPMU)

During a clinical trial, patients were given two of the most commonly used radioactive tracers in PET and in SPECT: 18F-FDG radioactive tracer (fludeoxyglucose) used in PET, and 99mTc-DMSA, or 2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid used in SPECT. Using the Compton camera, the researchers were able to simultaneously create two-dimensional images from different radio isotopes of the patient's organs.

One of the characteristics of this camera is its adaptation of silicon/cadmium telluride (Si/CdTe), originally developed to study cosmic gamma rays. The silicon and cadmium telluride semiconductors are capable of accurately detecting gamma ray energies emitted from radioactive elements over a wider range of energies without the need of collimators.

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