DOI: 10.1186/s40658-018-0208-9Pages: 1-16

Determination of gamma camera calibration factors for quantitation of therapeutic radioisotopes

1. University of British Columbia, Department of Physics and Astronomy

2. University of British Columbia, Medical Imaging Research Group, Department of Radiology

3. BC Cancer Research Center, Department of Molecular Oncology

4. Vancouver Coastal Health Authority

5. CHU de Quebec-Université Laval, Department of Medical Imaging

6. Université Laval, Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine

7. University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Radiology

Correspondence to:
Wei Zhao




Camera calibration, which translates reconstructed count map into absolute activity map, is a prerequisite procedure for quantitative SPECT imaging. Both planar and tomographic scans using different phantom geometries have been proposed for the determination of the camera calibration factor (CF). However, there is no consensus on which approach is the best. The aim of this study is to evaluate all these calibration methods, compare their performance, and propose a practical and accurate calibration method for SPECT quantitation of therapeutic radioisotopes. Twenty-one phantom experiments (Siemens Symbia SPECT/CT) and 12 Monte Carlo simulations (GATE v6.1) using three therapy isotopes (131I, 177Lu, and 188Re) have been performed. The following phantom geometries were used: (1) planar scans of point source in air (PS), (2) tomographic scans of insert(s) filled with activity placed in non-radioactive water (HS + CB), (3) tomographic scans of hot insert(s) in radioactive water (HS + WB), and (4) tomographic scans of cylinders uniformly filled with activity (HC). Tomographic data were reconstructed using OSEM with CT-based attenuation correction and triple energy window (TEW) scatter correction, and CF was determined using total counts in the reconstructed image, while for planar scans, the photopeak counts, corrected for scatter and background with TEW, were used. Additionally, for simulated data, CF obtained from primary photons only was analyzed.


For phantom experiments, CF obtained from PS and HS + WB agreed to within 6% (below 3% if experiments performed on the same day are considered). However, CF from HS + CB exceeded those from PS by 4–12%. Similar trend was found in simulation studies. Analysis of CFs from primary photons helped us to understand this discrepancy. It was due to underestimation of scatter by the TEW method, further enhanced by attenuation correction. This effect becomes less important when the source is distributed over the entire phantom volume (HS + WB and HC).


Camera CF could be determined using planar scans of a point source, provided that the scatter and background contributions are removed, for example using the clinically available TEW method. This approach is simple and yet provides CF with sufficient accuracy (~ 5%) to be used in clinics for radiotracer quantification.

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  • Accepted: Feb 23, 2018
  • Online: May 2, 2018

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