Better PET scans so even smaller tumors can be seen

(03-01-2022) In her doctoral research, Mariele Stockhoff looked for ways to increase the resolution of PET detectors.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a widely used medical imaging technique. While most scans provide anatomical information such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a PET scan can be used to visualize a functional process.

By injecting, for example, a radiolabeled glucose analogue, sugar molecules can be detected throughout the body. The radiopharmaceutical, also called a tracer, has a radioactive ligand that emits gamma rays that can be measured by the PET detectors. If the PET image shows regions of unexpectedly high sugar consumption, this may indicate the presence of tumors.

"Unfortunately, tumors below a certain size are not visible on PET images," Mariele Stockhoff explains.

The ability of the scanner to detect small structures is called the spatial resolution of the system. This depends, among other things, on the intrinsic spatial resolution of the detector.

"The goal of my dissertation was to investigate monolithic PET detectors that can provide better spatial resolution for use in clinical PET systems," Mariele explains. 

"We have shown that monolithic detectors can provide ultra-high spatial resolution that is very close to the fundamental spatial resolution limits of PET," she concludes.

Read the entire PhD

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PhD Title: Improvement of Spatial Resolution in Monolithic Detectors for Clinical PET

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Contact: Mariele Stockhoff, Stefaan VandenbergheRoel Van Holen

Mariele Stockhoff

Mariele Stockhoff (˚Borken, Germany, May 1991) started studying Biomedical Engineering in 2011 at the University of Applied Sciences Aachen, Jülich. In January 2017 she graduated as a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering.

Mariele conducted research in the Cherry Lab at the University of California in Davis, USA for 1.5 years leading to a first author and second author publication.

In August 2017 she started her PhD at Ghent University in the Medical Image and Signal Processing (MEDISIP) research group within the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. Under the supervision of Prof. Stefaan Vandenberghe and Prof. Roel Van Holen she has been studying the improvement of spatial resolution in monolithic detectors for clinical positron emission tomography (PET).

Mariele is first author of 3 and co-author of 3 published articles in international peer-reviewed journals with more than 70 citations. Furthermore, she has 7 first author and more than 8 co-author conference contributions. Mariele is member of the Gate collaboration and the UTOFPET (Ultra-Time-Of-Flight PET) research project.

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Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Final editing: Ilse Vercruysse - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke