image of scannerMUSC Health has brought the latest in Positron Emission Tomography (PET)/CT scanner technology to the U.S. with the Department of Radiology’s new scanner that offers 128-slice CT.  The mCT 128 PET/CT system (Siemens Healthcare, Erlangen, Germany) enables nuclear medicine specialists to see anatomical images, such as lung nodules, and physiologic functions, such as coronary blood flow, in greater detail. This diagnostic advantage will be especially beneficial in three clinical areas, according to Leonie L. Gordon, M.B., ChB, Director of Nuclear Medicine. These specialists will use the scanner to interpret images in (1) cancer diagnosis (to locate tumors and metastases to other organs and bones) and treatment adjustment (with clearer pictures of the tumor’s borders, they can better advise surgeons planning to resect cancerous tissue or help medical oncologists change chemotherapy if it has been ineffective ); (2) heart disease diagnosis and treatment (to better assess cardiac muscle viability and the degree of blockage in coronary vessels, for example); and (3) neurological disease (to confirm the diagnosis of dementia, identify epilepsy seizure locations, and assess treatment effectiveness in certain  brain tumors). 

Furthermore, this scanner is more patient-friendly. Scanning time is reduced from an average of 45 minutes to 15 to 20 minutes, a feature especially advantageous for patients from MUSC Children’s Hospital. “Because the scanner is quicker, children may not need to be sedated,” says Gordon.

Combined PET/CT scanning has been commercially available since 2001. Its advantage is that it fuses the PET and CT information into one image and almost complete eliminates the false-positive and false-negative PET findings. The mCT 128 PET/CT system is different in that the CT provides 128 detector rows (slices) of anatomical images, as opposed to the 64 slices or fewer in older technology. This system has been available in Europe for 2 to 3 years. Siemens chose MUSC Health as the first hospital in the U.S. to receive the system because of its history with MUSC Health specialists’ clinical development and evaluation of Siemens equipment. This system is FDA-approved, but MUSC Health will be evaluating further the clinical utility of putting such a high-resolution CT scanner with a PET scanner. Gordon predicts the system will be of particular benefit to the patients at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center and MUSC Health Heart & Vascular Center.