As photon-counting imaging systems become more complex, there is a trend toward measuring more attributes of each individual event. In various imaging systems the attributes can include several position variables, time variables, and energies. If more than about four attributes are measured for each event, it is not practical to record the data in an image matrix. Instead it is more efficient to use a simple list where every attribute is stored for every event. It is the purpose of this paper to discuss the concept of likelihood for such list-mode data. We present expressions for list-mode likelihood with an arbitrary number of attributes per photon and for both preset counts and preset time. Maximization of this likelihood can lead to a practical reconstruction algorithm with list-mode data, but that aspect is covered in a separate paper [ IEEE Trans. Med. Imaging (to be published)]. An expression for lesion detectability for list-mode data is also derived and compared with the corresponding expression for conventional binned data.
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