Physics of functional and molecular imaging

Medical Physics, Second Cycle
2 year
Hours per week – 2. semester:

Regular enrolement

Content (Syllabus outline)

Basics of nuclear medicine: purpose, principles and basic concepts (scintigraphy, PET, SPECT, Compton camera), radioisotopes and radiotracers, interaction of gamma rays with matter
Radioisotope production: nuclear reactors, cyclotrons, radioisotope generators, radiopharmaceutical production, quality assurance
Dosimetry: internal and external dosimetry, system MIRD, kinetic models, Monte Carlo dosimetry
Detectors for nuclear medicine: required characteristics (gain, positional, temporal, energy resolution, geometrical acceptance), types of detectors (scintillation, semiconductor, gas), types of scintillators, whole body counters
Gamma camera: fundamental principles, components (scintillator, electronics, collimator), types, characteristics (positional resolution, gain, energy resolution, count dednsity), gamma camera limitations (non-uniformity and non-linearity, correlations), characteristics of different collimators, measurements of gamma camera characteristics, clinical application.
Image quality: spatial resolution, contrast, noise, methods for image quality evaluation.
Image reconstruction methods: Fourier-based deconvolution methods, iterative methods, comparison between the methods.
SPECT: different types of SPECT scanners, attenuation effect and its correlations, scatter correction, partial volume correction, image characteristics (resolution, linearity, noise), clinical use.
PET: fundamental principles, factors that impact image quality (positron range, co-linearity of photons, scatter, random coincidences, reconstruction filters), types of PET cameras, data acquisition in 2D and 3D, image reconstruction and image corrections (filters, random coincidences, scatter, attenuation), SUV calculation, clinical use, PET/CT
Digital image processing: basics, image visualization, filtering, smoothing, edge detection, active contours


• Simon R. Cherry, James A. Sorenson, Michael E. Phelps, Physics in nuclear medicine, W B Saunders; 3rd edition (July 18, 2003), 523 pp. ISBN: 072168341X
• Paul J. Early, D. Bruce Sodee, Principles and practice of nuclear medicine, Mosby; 2nd edition (January 15, 1995), 877 pp. ISBN: 0801625777

Objectives and competences

Students get familiar with the fundamentals of functional and molecular imaging; methods, scanners, detectors, image reconstruction and elements that determine image quality.
Competences: Understanding of the physical fundamentals of different nuclear medicine techniques and image reconstruction. Understanding of factors that influence image quality. Obtaining basic practical knowledge working with diagnostic equipment and understanding of potential work hazards. Obtaining basic knowledge of digital imaging analysis.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:
Obtaining fundamental knowledge of different procedures in nuclear medicine. Understanding the role of detectors and image reconstruction algorithms.
Understanding methods for radioisotope production.
Fundamental knowledge of physica principles underlying SPECT and PET imaging in combination with other imaging methods.
Critical evaluation of the theoretical predictions with the experimental results of radioisotope production in tissue.
Transferable skills:
Ability to collect the data and critically evaluate new literature in the field of functional and molecular imaging. Ability to communicate with experts from similar fields, particularly medical field.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures, problem solving, homework, consultations.


Written exam (theory)
Written exam (problem solving), homework
Subject is also a part of the final committee exam. Marks: pass/fail (according to the UL rules).
grading: 5 (fail), 6-10 (pass) (according to the Statute of UL)

Lecturer's references
  1. STARIČ, Marko, BRAČKO, Marko, GOLOB, Boštjan, KORPAR, Samo, KRIŽAN, Peter, PESTOTNIK, Rok, PETRIČ, Marko, SMERKOL, Peter, STANIČ, Samo, ZUPANC, Anže. Search for CP violation in D[sup][pm] meson decays to [phi] [pi][sup][pm]. Phys. rev. lett.. [Print ed.], 2012, vol. 108, no. 7, str. 071801-1-071801-6
  2. STARIČ, Marko. Track based maximum likelihood ring search algorithm. Nucl. instrum, methods phys res., Sect. A, Accel.. [Print ed.], 2008, vol. 595, no. 1, str. 237-240.
  3. Vanderhoek, M., Perlman, S.B., and Jeraj, R., Impact of different standardized uptake value measures on PET-based quantification of treatment response, J Nucl Med 54(8), 2013, 1188-94.
  4. Vanderhoek, M., Perlman, S.B., and Jeraj, R., Impact of the definition of peak standardized uptake value on quantification of treatment response, J Nucl Med 53(1), 2012, 4-11.
  5. Simoncic, U. and Jeraj, R., Cumulative input function method for linear compartmental models and spectral analysis in PET, J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 31(2), 2011, 750-6.