A novel detector element structure and method for its use is provided. In a preferred embodiment, one or more inorganic scintillating crystals are coupled through wavelength shifting optical fibers (WLSFs) to position sensitive photomultipliers (PS-PMTs). The superior detector configuration in accordance with this invention is designed for an array of applications in high spatial resolution gamma ray sensing with particular application to SPECT, PET and PVI imaging systems. The design provides better position resolution than prior art devices at a lower total cost. By employing wavelength shifting fibers (WLSFs), the sensor configuration of this invention can operate with a significant reduction in the number of photomultipliers and electronics channels, while potentially improving the resolution of the system by allowing three dimensional reconstruction of energy deposition positions.