Nuclear Imaging

Nuclear Imaging mainly refers to those imaging diagnostic techniques used in Nuclear Medicine. The goal of Nuclear Imaging (also termed radioisotope or radionuclide imaging) is to visualize those metabolic and functional processes which are related to a certain disease. For this purpose, very small amounts of specific radioactively-labelled substances (called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers) are administered to the patient. These substances contain radioisotopes which decay producing gamma radiation. By using dedicated radiation cameras and computers, the path of biologically relevant substances in the body can be tracked.

Nuclear imaging encompasses modalities such as Scintigraphy, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computer Tomography (SPECT). The latter two are tomographic techniques which require complex mathematical algorithms and scanners to produce volumetric images. Nowadays, nuclear imaging techniques are used in the clinical routine for early diagnosis and therapy follow-up of several diseases, mainly in oncology, neurology, and cardiology. By means of dedicated small animal scanners, PET and SPECT have also become very important tools in biomedical research.

In our Institute, a line of research devoted to Nuclear Imaging has been recently established. Our main research focus lies on Positron Emission Tomography: from novel detector concepts to image reconstruction algorithms, for both clinical and preclinical applications. Additionally, we also work on Compton and PET imaging for range verification in particle therapy.