A fiber-optically coupled positron-sensitive surgical probe

R. R. Raylman, R. L. Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Positron-emitting radiopharmaceuticals such as 18F-labeled 2-deoxy-D- glucose (FDG) have considerable utility in the noninvasive imaging of cancers due to their rapid and excellent tumor-localizing properties. In addition, the relatively short range of positrons in tissue facilitates the precise delineation of FDG-avid tumors. Therefore, FDG used in conjunction with a positron-sensitive probe may be capable of guiding surgical procedures. Many of the current probe systems, however, are sensitive to the intense flux of background photons produced by positron annihilation. We describe the design, manufacture and initial in vitro and in vivo testing of a probe well-suited to the detection of positron-emitting isotopes in a high-photon background. Methods: The device consists of a small piece of plastic scintillator coupled by fiber-optic cable to a photomultiplier tube. Measurements of resolution and detector sensitivity were obtained. In addition, the reduction in resolution caused by the effects of various levels of background photon flux was determined. Results: These measurements indicate that resolution is degraded minimally (~5% with a background-to-source ratio of 2:1) due to annihilation photon background. Sensitivity for positrons is good, detecting amounts of radioactivity as low as 10.2 nCi of FDG in vitro. In rats given FDG subcutaneously, lymph nodes containing as little as 11 nCi of FDG could be detected above the background activity levels present in normal surrounding tissues. Conclusion: A plastic scintillator probe system has been devised which may be highly suitable for intraoperative FDG-guided (or other positron or beta emitting-tracer) surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-913
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • FDG
  • intraoperative probes
  • radiation detectors
  • tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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