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July 23, 2001

Hospital gets new imaging device

By Janet Christenberry


Emory Hospital has been selected as one of three sites in the United States to receive a new combination scanner to diagnose cancer––a technology being called a “medical imaging breakthrough.”

Created by GE Medical Systems, the machine is described as the first proven technology that can help doctors answer critical heath questions with just one exam. By fusing positron emission tomography (PET) and computerized tomography (CT) information, the scanner will help physicians pinpoint and localize cancerous tumors faster and more accurately than ever before.

“Emory was chosen as one of the sites to receive this machine because of its already strong PET Center and because of our growing cancer research at the Winship Cancer Institute,” said William Casarella, professor and chair in the School of Medicine’s radiology department. “Those two factors make Emory a perfect place for this new imaging device.”

The integrated PET-CT scanner combines the best of both imaging modalities in one system. A CT shows the anatomical location of the tumor; it relies on changes in anatomy that occur as tumors grow larger. PET sees small metabolic changes and can help doctors identify tiny lesions or cancerous cells before there are any accompanying changes in the anatomy; however, it cannot provide the precise location of the tumor. With this combined technology, doctors now can detect cancer in its earliest form, pinpoint the exact location and determine the best way to remove the tumor and treat the affected area.

“Besides its abilities to identify cancer more quickly,” Casarella said, “this new technology will reduce invasive procedures in patients such as biopsies and unnecessary surgeries. It also will reduce examination and imaging time.”

The PET-CT scanner has the potential to provide increased diagnostic confidence for patients suspected of having cancer and for those who already have been diagnosed. It should improve peace of mind for patients and their families, knowing that this scanner provides comprehensive and accurate information regarding detection and staging, Casarella said.

The scanner is expected to arrive at Emory in several months, pending a certificate of need approval by the state of Georgia.


Back to Emory Report July 23, 2001