Principles of quantitative positron emission tomography
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The central distinguishing feature of positron emission tomography (PET) is its ability to investigate quantitatively regional cellular and molecular transport processes in vivo with good spatial resolution. This review wants to provide a concise overview of the established principles underlying quantitative data evaluations of the acquired PET images. Especially, the compartment modelling framework is discussed on which virtually all quantification methods utilized in PET are based. The aim of the review is twofold: first, to provide the reader with an idea of the theoretical framework and mathematical tools and second, to enable an intuitive grasp of the possibilities and limitations of a quantitative approach to PET data evaluation. This should facilitate an understanding of how PET measurements translate into quantities such as regional blood flow, volume of distribution, and metabolic rates of specific substrates.
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