Nuclear Medicine: Where Hybrid and Molecular Rule

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Hybrid imaging systems, including multislice PET/CT and SPECT/CT systems, made a big splash at this year's RSNA, as did molecular imaging and the new technologies that are expanding its R &D and clinical capabilities.
   
Nuclear medicine vendors were sure to exhibit their standalone PET as well as combined PET/CT systems. Philips Medical Systems launched an enhanced PET/CT system, while GE showed a 64-slice PET/CT scanner as a works-in-progress.  Studies have shown the diagnostic superiority of PET/CT in the evaluation of different cancers as well as heart disease. Neurology and targeted radiotherapy are additional specialties benefiting from the combination of metabolic and anatomic function.
   
PET is making its mark. In a keynote session titled "Molecular Imaging: From Nanotechnology to Patients," Michael E. Phelps, PhD, the Norton Simon Professor and chairman of the Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, said approximately one million clinical PET procedures will be performed in the United States, with a projected growth rate of 20 to 30 percent per year over the next four years. PET today is the most widely considered molecular imaging modality. The PET scanner was the first device to allow noninvasive measurement of the biochemistry and biology of normal organ function and to enable molecular diagnosis of disease.
   
SPECT/CT is knocking at its doors - vendors say the hybrid imaging modality is advancing mainstream molecular imaging. Siemens announced at the show the first clinical installation of its TruePoint SPECT/CT system, and both Philips and GE showed of enhanced hybrid imaging systems.     
   
Additional highlights included a new web-delivered suite of software tools that can assist a facility in starting and maintaining a successful PET imaging practice. The versatility of fusion imaging software showed its strengths too, as the clinical tool can be used to combine images captured on PET/CT and SPECT/CT systems, as well as merge data sets acquired from different modalities, such as CT, MR, PET and SPECT. A new fusion capability was shown by Hitachi that allows precise contouring of tumors on fused data to be exported in DICOM RT format to a radiation therapy planning system.

(Note: companies appear in alphabetical order.)
   


CTI Molecular Imaging demonstrated PETConnect, an integrated source of web-delivered software tools and workstations for image analysis, education and practice management. Created in partnerships between CTI Mirada Solutions and CTI PETNET, the technology includes a range of IT products, educational programs and service offerings, designed to provide all the capabilities necessary to run a successful PET imaging practice.
   
PETConnect consists of applications for image analysis, PET education and marketing, and practice management. The image analysis software in PETConnect, created by CTI Mirada Solutions, includes diagnostic applications spanning oncology, neurology, and cardiology. The PET education and marketing programs are designed to provide the user with all the tools necessary to educate their community on the advantages of PET and PET/CT. The integrated practice management applications provide the necessities and understanding to stabilize the daily operations of a PET center, CTI said.  
   
For clinicians already using PET or PET/CT, PETConnect provides tools to increase productivity, improve diagnostic accuracy, facilitate communication with referring physicians and grow a PET practice. Highlights include: Scenium, for detailed analysis of FDG uptake in patients with suspected Alzheimer's disease; Ostiview, the first application specifically designed for the visualization and analysis of PET sodium fluoride bone scans; PET/CT U, a comprehensive web-based educational tool, designed to provide clear answers to all your questions about PET/CT; and Call It With Confidence, a complete educational resource designed to assist the interpreting physician with proper reporting of PET and PET/CT studies.
   
For radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians, PETConnect includes the MiraView workstation for image review and analysis and Fusion7D (available both as a workstation plug-in and a PACS/OEM offering), with both rigid and non-rigid image fusion algorithms.  New capabilities include Novisis, an application that facilitates direct comparison of several images, including