The Nuclear Imaging Uncertainty Principle. Do Nuclear Cameras Really Work?


The introduction of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle and Nuclear Cardiology occurred simultaneously in 1925-1927. Thirty years later the Anger gamma camera would allow for a more sophisticated radioactive isotope counting to determine the presence or absence of disease. When employed with technetium-99m isotopes, ischemic heart disease can be inferred by differences in visual appearance of cardiac images. These gestalts of imaging results have been separated from the quantitative information recorded by the cameras computer. We investigated whether current camera and computer systems are sophisticated enough to quantify differences between images to be clinically relevant. Our study demonstrated that efforts to "sharpen" image appearance does so at a reduction in "accuracy". Like Heisenberg, this work shows that one cannot know the exact location AND the amount of activity simultaneously and that a decision must be made for accuracy over image sharpness if one is to truly quantify differences in isotope concentration between images

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This paper was published in Nature Precedings.

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