Digital PET vs Analog PET: Clinical Implications?

Diego Alfonso López-Mora*, Ignasi Carrió, Albert Flotats

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Positron emission tomography (PET) is a functional imaging technique introduced in 1970s. Over the years, PET was used alone but is in 2000 when the first hybrid PET/CT device was clinically introduced. Since then, PET has continuously been marked by technological developments, being the most recent one the introduction of silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) as an alternative to standard photomultiplier tubes used in analog PET/CT systems. SiPMs, the basis for the so called digital PET/CT systems, are smaller than standard photomultiplier tubes (enabling higher spatial resolution) and provide up to 100% coverage of the crystal area, as well as high sensitivity, low noise, and fast timing resolution. SiPMs in combination with optimized acquisition and reconstruction parameters improve the localization of the annihilation events, provide high definition PET images, and offer higher sensitivity and higher diagnostic performance. This article summarizes the evidence about the superior performance of the state of the art digital PET and highlights its potential clinical implications. Digital PET opens new perspectives in the quantification and characterization of small lesions, which are mostly undetectable using analog PET systems, potentially changing patient management and improving outcomes in oncological and non-oncological diseases. Moreover, digital PET offers the possibility to reduce radiation dose and scan times which may facilitate the implementation of PET to address unmet clinical needs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSeminars in Nuclear Medicine
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2021


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