The underlying principles of nuclear medicine imaging involve the use of unsealed sources of radioactivity in the form of radiopharmaceuticals. The ionizing radiations that accompany the decay of the administered radioactivity can be quantitatively detected, measured, and imaged in vivo with instruments such as gamma cameras. This paper reviews the design and operating principles, as well as the capabilities and limitations, of instruments used clinically and preclinically for in vivo radionuclide imaging. These include gamma cameras, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scanners, and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners. The technical basis of autoradiography is reviewed as well.
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Vol. 177 • No. 4