Technical Note: A digital reference object representing Hoffman’s 3D brain phantom for PET scanner simulations

Robert L. Harrison, Brian F. Elston, Darrin W. Byrd, Adam M. Alessio, Kristin R. Swanson, Paul E. Kinahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Physical and digital phantoms play a key role in the development and testing of nuclear medicine instrumentation and processing algorithms for clinical and research applications, including neuroimaging using positron emission tomography (PET). We have developed and tested a digital reference object (DRO) version of the original segmented magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data used for the three-dimensional (3D) PET brain phantom developed by Hoffman et al., which is used as the basis of a commercially available physical test phantom. Methods: The DRO was constructed by subdividing the MRI image planes the original phantom was based on to create equal-thickness slices and re-labeling voxels. The digital data was then embedded in a PET Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine format and tested for compliance. Results: We then tested the DRO by comparing it to computed tomography (CT) images of the physical phantom summed to form composite slices with axial extent similar to the DRO, but with a factor of two better in-slice resolution. For composite slices, 91% of voxels were labeled in full agreement, 5% of the voxels were 50–75% accurate, and the remaining 4% of voxels had 25% or less agreement. Conclusions: This DRO can be used as an input for PET scanner simulation studies or for comparing simulations to measured Hoffman phantom images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1174-1180
Number of pages7
JournalMedical physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • PET
  • brain imaging quality assessment
  • phantoms
  • simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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