DOI: 10.1186/s40658-017-0184-5Pages: 1-16

A CZT-based blood counter for quantitative molecular imaging

1. Université Laval, Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Optics and Cancer Research Center

2. Université de Montréal, Department of Physics

3. Department of Medical Imaging and Research Center of CHU de Québec - Université Laval

4. Université Laval, Department of Radiology and Nuclear medicine and Cancer Research Center

5. Department of Radiation Oncology and Research Center of CHU de Québec - Université Laval

Correspondence to:
Philippe Després




Robust quantitative analysis in positron emission tomography (PET) and in single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) typically requires the time-activity curve as an input function for the pharmacokinetic modeling of tracer uptake. For this purpose, a new automated tool for the determination of blood activity as a function of time is presented.

The device, compact enough to be used on the patient bed, relies on a peristaltic pump for continuous blood withdrawal at user-defined rates. Gamma detection is based on a 20 × 20 × 15 mm3 cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) detector, read by custom-made electronics and a field-programmable gate array-based signal processing unit. A graphical user interface (GUI) allows users to select parameters and easily perform acquisitions.


This paper presents the overall design of the device as well as the results related to the detector performance in terms of stability, sensitivity and energy resolution. Results from a patient study are also reported. The device achieved a sensitivity of 7.1 cps/(kBq/mL) and a minimum detectable activity of 2.5 kBq/ml for 18F. The gamma counter also demonstrated an excellent stability with a deviation in count rates inferior to 0.05% over 6 h. An energy resolution of 8% was achieved at 662 keV.


The patient study was conclusive and demonstrated that the compact gamma blood counter developed has the sensitivity and the stability required to conduct quantitative molecular imaging studies in PET and SPECT.

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  • Accepted: May 2, 2017
  • Online: Jun 2, 2017

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