Positron emission tomography reveals the biochemical basis underlying many disease processes. The key step is the labeling of authentic metabolic substrates, generally starting with precursor compounds of the short-lived radionuclides 11C, 13N, 15O and 18F. These, in turn, are produced on accelerators, with small cyclotrons now appearing in hospitals. The success of maintaining a reliable source of imaging agents in a clinical setting hinges more on making effective use of modest beams and energies (50 μA; 10 MeV) rather than scaling up the cyclotron in an engineering overkill. Target performance is observed by telemetry of a number of parameters during irradiation. In particular, the neutron flux can be singled out as an immediate signature of the (p, n) reaction, and serves as an important variable to optimize during the bombardment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics