Report: Fusion imaging set to change diagnostic imaging

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New technological advances in fusion imaging that use special software to combine both anatomical and functional images for highly precise images are useful in locating tumors or defining other conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and neural disorders, according to analysis by Frost & Sullivan.

"Hybrid imaging modalities such as positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) and single photon emission computed tomography/CT (SPECT/CT) are revolutionizing the field of diagnostic imaging," said Preethi Vaidyanathan, technical insights research analyst. "Several PET/CT devices with different features have already been introduced and are available commercially."

Combined PET/CT can provide improved results over PET or CT alone due to imaging accuracy of localization of flurodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake, which can differentiate pathological from physical uptake which improves treatment, according to the report.

Other significant advantages of PET/CT imaging include better diagnostic accuracy, treatment planning and response evaluation as well as enhanced guided biopsy methods. The application also is useful in new indications and applications that cannot be satisfactorily performed with individual PET or CT, the report states.

Combined SPECT with high-powered CT scanners are finding applications in multiple new research and clinical arenas such as in vivo small animal studies and CT angiography in the emergency department.

"By combining high-speed CT scanners with SPECT's highly accurate definition of disease processes, anatomical mapping and localization can be enhanced,'" said Vaidyanathan. "Most significantly, CT attenuation correction greatly reduces the problems of distortion and degradation that typically occur with radio-nuclide-based methods," she added.

Combined SPECT/CT also has proved to be highly effective in examining patients with neuroendocrine tumors. Researchers from the University di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy, have undertaken a study in an attempt to identify the future applications of SPECT/CT imaging.

Researchers are now evaluating the possibility of combining SPECT and CT data for oncology applications. For instance, SPECT/CT can provide an excellent alternative in cases where institutions cannot afford FDG, which is expensive and has a short life. SPECT tracers are often more cost-effective, easier to obtain and in certain tumors, more accurate than FDG, the according to the report.

In other studies, researchers at the University Hospital of Zurich have attempted to compare the accuracy of contrast-enhanced material helical CT alone with that of co-registered PET/CT and co-registered SPECT/CT. The outcome of their research suggests that contrast-enhanced CT and PET/CT are better than SPECT/CT for identifying the invasion of the mandibular and maxillary bones in patients with oral cavity cancers, the study said.