From X-ray astronomy to gamma scintigraphy: a high resolution gamma camera for medical imaging

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


Current nuclear imaging facilities use large fixed devices located in imaging departments making procedures at the bedside, in operating theatres, clinics or intensive care units extremely difficult. These ?standard? whole body gamma cameras can normally only resolve objects bigger than 6mm which limits there diagnosis capabilities for many medical applications.

Over the last few years we have been developing gamma cameras based on new technology that was originally developed for X-ray astronomy. Recently we have developed a new type of gamma camera that offers high spatial resolution imaging, enabling small objects around ~ 1 mm be clearly seen.

During the last 10 years a number of applications have emerged using nuclear medicine in operating theatres and intensive care units. In particular, the concept of sentinel node biopsy has been developed to help determine the best treatment for cancer patients. Sentinel node imaging via lymphoscintigraphy has become an important technique for determining the stage of cancer and, in particular, whether the disease has spread from the primary tumour to the lymphatic system. Many UK hospitals are assessing the sensitivity of sentinel node mapping in a range of cancers. For this procedure to be successful it is necessary to identify the sentinel node pre-operatively. Our technology offers the potential for a low-cost, high-performance method of imaging the sentinel node. Our camera would also be useful for the imaging of small organs such as the thyroid and skeletal joints (knees, ankles, elbows).
Our portable device will offer healthcare benefits by providing patients and medical teams with versatile, point-of-care technology. Such cameras would be clinically useful for radio-guided surgery, sentinel node detection and imaging small parts such as the eye and thyroid and would also find applications in gastroenterology.

Technical Summary

We propose to investigate the use of a solid state imaging detector, originally developed for X-ray astronomy, for applications in nuclear medicine. Specifically we aim to determine if collimated, scintillator-coated, low noise Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs) can be used as a generic, low cost, high performance alternative to the ?standard? large area Gamma Camera for imaging small volumes of radionuclide uptake in tissues.
Our programme will concentrate on imaging patients in the clinical environment. We will compare the performance of our imaging detector with commercial gamma cameras used in medical imaging. In collaboration with clinicians we will also refine the current camera and its operation and produce imaging software to meet the stringent operational demands of modern hospitals.


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Lees JE (2010) Design and use of mini-phantoms for high resolution planar gamma cameras. in Applied radiation and isotopes : including data, instrumentation and methods for use in agriculture, industry and medicine

Description CLASP - NuViews
Amount £147,437 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2011 
End 06/2012
Description QMC 
Organisation Queen's Medical Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Knowledge and expertise, co-authoring paers and co-applicate on grant bids
Collaborator Contribution Knowledge and expertise, co-authoring paers and co-applicate on grant bids
Impact Successfull grant bid
Title MGRC 
Description gamma ray cammera for medical imaging, currently in clincal imaging trials 
Type Diagnostic Tool - Imaging
Current Stage Of Development Initial development
Year Development Stage Completed 2010
Development Status Under active development/distribution
Impact results being used to improve the camera prior to applying for CE mark 
Company Name Gamma Technologies Limited 
Description Early stage spinout 
Year Established 2007 
Impact Actively seeking private investment
Description BioKnex workshp 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Imaging workshop for wide ranging audience with discussion of research afterwards

contacts with commercial interestes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010