Recent years have witnessed an increased use of in vivo imaging techniques in both medicine and biomedical research. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a functional in vivo imaging technique relying on the metabolism of molecules which are injected into the blood stream and have a high chemical affinity to a specific biological substrate. These substances are labelled with positron emitters resulting in gamma rays which can be recorded outside the body using coincidence detection. Radiation can be detected using a variety of solutions, in terms of transducers and system geometries, and combined to produce images using suitable image reconstruction algorithms. The applications of PET imaging (e.g. cancer, brain function, cardiac function and gene expression) are currently benefiting from technological developments leading to the proposal of new PET systems. These are more sensitive, dedicated to imaging specific organs or research animals and are becoming multimodal. These advances are fostering new uses of PET, for example in biology labs to study the onset, progression and therapy of disease or to image the female breast. New materials and equipment are also, being developed allowing combining PET with other imaging techniques, such as MRI. The purpose of this review is to illustrate the most important inventions patented in PET since 2006 in areas concerning data acquisition and processing for human and research use of PET. Finally the manuscript will present the authors views about forthcoming developments in PET.
Keywords: PET, PET developments, multimodality imaging, time of flight PET, dedicated PET systems, Positron Emission Tomography, in vivo imaging techniques, chemical affinity, Time-of-Flight PET, MRI, radiopharmaceuticals, PET-CT systems, sequential acquisitions, simultaneous acquisitions, scintillation light, split-magnet solution