Several applications in nuclear medicine require absolute activity quantification of single photon emission computed tomography images. Obtaining a repeatable calibration factor that converts voxel values to activity units is essential for these applications. Because source preparation and measurement of the source activity using a radionuclide activity meter are potential sources of variability, this work investigated instrumentation and acquisition factors affecting repeatability using planar acquisition of sealed sources. The calibration factor was calculated for different acquisition and geometry conditions to evaluate the effect of the source size, lateral position of the source in the camera field-of-view (FOV), source-to-camera distance (SCD), and variability over time using sealed Ba-133 sources. A small region of interest (ROI) based on the source dimensions and collimator resolution was investigated to decrease the background effect. A statistical analysis with a mixed-effects model was used to evaluate quantitatively the effect of each variable on the global calibration factor variability. A variation of 1 cm in the measurement of the SCD from the assumed distance of 17 cm led to a variation of 1-2% in the calibration factor measurement using a small disc source (0.4 cm diameter) and less than 1% with a larger rod source (2.9 cm diameter). The lateral position of the source in the FOV and the variability over time had small impacts on calibration factor variability. The residual error component was well estimated by Poisson noise. Repeatability of better than 1% in a calibration factor measurement using a planar acquisition of a sealed source can be reasonably achieved. The best reproducibility was obtained with the largest source with a count rate much higher than the average background in the ROI, and when the SCD was positioned within 5 mm of the desired position. In this case, calibration source variability was limited by the quantum noise.
- absolute activity quantification
- gamma camera