A penalized likelihood approach to the estimation of calibration factors in positron emission tomography (PET) is considered, in particular the problem of estimating the efficiency of PET detectors. Varying efficiencies among the detectors create a non-uniform performance and failure to account for the non-uniformities would lead to streaks in the image, so efficient estimation of the non-uniformities is desirable to reduce the propagation of noise to the final image. The relevant data set is provided by a blank scan, where a model may be derived that depends only on the sources affecting non-uniformities: inherent variation among the detector crystals and geometric effects. Physical considerations suggest a novel mixed inverse model with random crystal effects and smooth geometric effects. Using appropriate penalty terms, the penalized maximum likelihood estimates are derived and an efficient computational algorithm utilizing the fast Fourier transform is developed. Data-driven shrinkage and smoothing parameters are chosen to minimize an estimate of the predictive loss function. Various examples indicate that the approach proposed works well computationally and compares well with the standard method.
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