Stevens introduces new radiology technology for a 3-D view of patients

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Stevens Hospital CT Technologist, Jay Hepworth, and Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Wini Neill, simulate a patient experience with the new Stevens PET/CT scanner.

Stevens Hospital reports that it is now equipped with new radiology technology to give physicians a three-dimensional, radiology image of what’s happening inside a patient’s body and a greater promise for detecting cancer. The hospital’s new Siemens Biograph mCT 40-detector PET/CT scanner combines the nuclear medicine technology of positron emission tomography (PET) with computed tomography (CT), Stevens said in a press release issued Friday.

“A PET scan is one of the few radiology tests that can be done on the entire body and provide comprehensive, 3-D images,” said Richard McGee, MD, FACP, Stevens oncologist and president of Puget Sound Cancer Centers. “Combined with CT technology, a PET scan provides information about where cancer is in the body, how it’s evolving or if it’s gone. It’s information that other radiology testing such as a CT or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam might not provide when done alone, without PET.”

“Not only is this state-of-the-art technology for cancer detection, the Biograph 40-detector PET/CT at Stevens uses less radiation compared to other PET/CT scanners, so there’s increased safety for patients,” said Art Castagno, MD, medical director of radiology at Stevens Hospital. “And because the scanner’s opening is wider, patients may be less likely to experience claustrophobia.”

PET/CT is commonly used to:
*       Detect cancer and/or determine whether the disease has spread
*       Assess the effectiveness of certain cancer therapies
*       Evaluate brain abnormalities such as tumors, memory disorders and seizures
*       Check for central nervous system disorders

Here’s how PET/CT works. The scanner uses computers to measure a small amount of radioactive material (radiotracer) that’s injected into a patient prior to the exam. The patient is placed on the PET/CT platform and gently moved through the scanner’s opening into a short, round tube where scans of the body are performed.

Additionally, PET/CT scans at Stevens are performed in a room that’s designed to create a soothing, calm environment for patients. That’s important, because a patient must remain still during the scanning process to increase the quality of PET/CT images.

Stevens Hospital began offering PET/CT in mid-July. In addition to cancer, Stevens is exploring the use of PET/CT to detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Early detection of the disease is crucial for risk assessment, testing new therapies and eventual early intervention with drug treatments.

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