Design optimization and performances of an intraoperative positron imaging probe for radioguided cancer surgery

S. Spadola, M.-A. Verdier, L. Pinot, C. Esnault, N. Dinu, Y. Charon, M.-A. Duval and L. Ménard

Extent and accuracy of surgical resection is a crucial step in operable tumor therapy. Emergence of promising specific tumor-seeking agents labeled with positron emitters is giving rise to a renewed interest for radioguided surgery using beta probes. Beta detection, due to the particle short range, allows a more sensitive and accurate tumor localization compared to gamma radiotracers. In that context, we are currently developing an intraoperative positron imaging probe using SiPM photosensors to perform tumor localization and post-operative control of the surgical cavity. Because compactness is a key feature when trying to detect positron emitters with high sensitivity in small surgical cavities, we chose to study the simplest detector design based on the use of a very thin organic scintillator coupled to the photosensor. Different designs of the positron imaging probe, including scintillator material and thickness, light spreading window and optical reflector, were investigated with Monte-Carlo simulations and measurements. Their impact on the probe performances were optimized in terms of positron sensitivity, gamma rays background noise contamination, spatial resolution and bias and uniformity. The ability of the probes to detect small radiolabeled tumors was also investigated by simulating different phantom uptake configurations.

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