The requirements set for particle accelerators for production of radioactive isotopes for PET can easily be derived from first principles. The simple general need is for proton beams with energy in the region 10–20 MeV and current 20–100 microAmps. This is most reliably and cost-effectively achieved by the well proven technology of the compact medical cyclotron, presently available from several companies. The main features of these cyclotrons are essential similar: resistive, sector focused iron magnets, internal negative ion sources and stripping extraction. The remaining differences between different manufacturers will be discussed the light of what is actually needed for a given PET site operation. Alternatives to the conventional cyclotron have been proposed and tested but have at present very limited use. These alternatives will be discussed, as well as the future possibilities of supplying point of demand tracer production with very small cyclotrons of energy well below 10 MeV. The authors best advice at present for new PET sites is to negotiate for conventional cyclotron solutions from experienced manufacturers. It is the combined performance of cyclotron and target in terms of available activity output and the specific activity that is the real figures of merit and it is recommended that cyclotron solutions are weighted according to this and that acceptance tests are set up to realistically evaluate the routine availability of this output.
Nuclear Medicine Review, 2012, Vol 15, Issue Suppl. C