Physics in medicine and biology

GATE Monte Carlo simulations for variations of an integrated PET/MR hybrid imaging system based on the Biograph mMR model.

PMID 26040657


A simulation toolkit, GATE (Geant4 Application for Tomographic Emission), was used to develop an accurate Monte Carlo (MC) simulation of a fully integrated 3T PET/MR hybrid imaging system (Siemens Biograph mMR). The PET/MR components of the Biograph mMR were simulated in order to allow a detailed study of variations of the system design on the PET performance, which are not easy to access and measure on a real PET/MR system. The 3T static magnetic field of the MR system was taken into account in all Monte Carlo simulations. The validation of the MC model was carried out against actual measurements performed on the PET/MR system by following the NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) NU 2-2007 standard. The comparison of simulated and experimental performance measurements included spatial resolution, sensitivity, scatter fraction, and count rate capability. The validated system model was then used for two different applications. The first application focused on investigating the effect of an extension of the PET field-of-view on the PET performance of the PET/MR system. The second application deals with simulating a modified system timing resolution and coincidence time window of the PET detector electronics in order to simulate time-of-flight (TOF) PET detection. A dedicated phantom was modeled to investigate the impact of TOF on overall PET image quality. Simulation results showed that the overall divergence between simulated and measured data was found to be less than 10%. Varying the detector geometry showed that the system sensitivity and noise equivalent count rate of the PET/MR system increased progressively with an increasing number of axial detector block rings, as to be expected. TOF-based PET reconstructions of the modeled phantom showed an improvement in signal-to-noise ratio and image contrast to the conventional non-TOF PET reconstructions. In conclusion, the validated MC simulation model of an integrated PET/MR system with an overall accuracy error of less than 10% can now be used for further MC simulation applications such as development of hardware components as well as for testing of new PET/MR software algorithms, such as assessment of point-spread function-based reconstruction algorithms.