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Technical advances towards high resolution PET imaging try to overcome the inherent physical limitations to spatial resolution. Positrons travel in tissue until they annihilate into the two gamma photons detected. This range is the main detector-independent contribution to PET imaging blurring. To a large extent, it can be remedied during image reconstruction if accurate estimates of positron range are available. However, the existing estimates differ, and the comparison with the scarce experimental data available is not conclusive. In this work we present positron annihilation distributions obtained from Monte Carlo simulations with the PeneloPET simulation toolkit, for several common PET isotopes (18F, 11C, 13N, 15O, 68Ga and 82Rb) in different biological media (cortical bone, soft bone, skin, muscle striated, brain, water, adipose tissue and lung). We compare PeneloPET simulations against experimental data and other simulation results available in the literature. To this end the different positron range representations employed in the literature are related to each other by means of a new parameterization for positron range profiles. Our results are generally consistent with experiments and with most simulations previously reported with differences of less than 20% in the mean and maximum range values. From these results, we conclude that better experimental measurements are needed, especially to disentangle the effect of positronium formation in positron range. Finally, with the aid of PeneloPET, we confirm that scaling approaches can be used to obtain universal, material and isotope independent, positron range profiles, which would considerably simplify range correction.
positron emission tomography (pet); monte carlo methods; image quality; image analysis; simulation