What is PET Fusion Imaging ?

PET Fusion Imaging, advanced PET/CT Technology

The GE Discovery LS PET/CT Scanner provides 2 exams with 1 procedure and is reportedly the 4th in the Nation currently in operation. Ribbon Cutting & Grand Opening May 28th, 4:30-7:00pm

PET Fusion Imaging will provide one of the most innovative tools in the early detection and staging of cancer beginning May 28th — less than a year after its June 2001 debut at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore as the first scanner of its kind to be installed in a United States hospital. The PET/CT Hybrid scanner combines Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with a traditional CT (computed tomography) scan offering patients the convenience of two exams in one procedure. Physicians find the fused images provide better data for faster, more accurate diagnosis, staging and monitoring of cancer.

“This is the best of both worlds, the anatomic and the functional,” says Dr. Kinzer, Clinical Director of PET Fusion Imaging. “This combined technology will, on average, bring up to 90 - 95 percent accuracy in cancer detection and staging.” The introduction of the new PET/CT hybrid scanner is an exciting milestone for the medical community because the fusion of the two technologies is considered by experts to be the future in cancer imaging.

PET Fusion Imaging

The scan is able to detect disease on a cellular level before visible structural changes become evident by more standard imaging such as CT, MRI or ultrasound while PET detects disease through abnormalities in the way cells function. “A combination of both cellular imaging, PET, and structural imaging, CT, provides the highest sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy available in cancer imaging today,” Kinzer says.

According to Kinzer, CT imaging for years has been the mainstay of cancer detection and determination of its spread and remains a strong adjunct to cancer care. In certain areas of the body, CT is more accurate than PET, but in the majority of cancers, PET remains the gold standard. Although PET scans are currently available locally, the combined PET/CT represents the cutting edge of medical technology coming to Fort Wayne.

For physicians, the fused image can provide more data in less time and can lead to faster, more accurate diagnosis, treatment planning, and treatment monitoring. For the patient, the procedure means a reduction in exam time and a potential reduction in invasive procedures such as biopsies and unnecessary surgeries. The test ensures greater peace of mind for patients and their families, knowing the technology provides comprehensive information. The test produces images that provide anatomic and metabolic information that result from a single exam in a single system. The combined PET/CT scan assists the physician in determining the presence and size of a tumor, where it is located and if it is spreading. Dr. Gary Gize, a Fort Wayne medical oncologist, says the PET/CT technology allows physicians to be more selective in whom they take to the operating room. Gize says the test aids in finding recurrences of cancer and helps in determining the appropriate therapy.

When a PET/CT patient arrives for the test, his sugar level will be checked. The patient will be injected with a solution of sugar that has been “tagged” with a radiotracer chemical isotope. Cancer cells and certain disease processes use the tagged sugar molecules in much higher concentration than normal body cells and, as a result, will light up as “hot spots” on the PETscan, localizing sites of involvement.

Before the procedure, the patient relaxes in a quiet room while the PET agent has time to circulate and adequately localize in tissue. The simple, painless test lasts about 30 minutes. The PET tracer is harmless and is eliminated out of the patient’s system usually within 12 hours.

While this new technology is expensive, it is also proving to be cost effective. The information obtained from this single procedure often reduces the need for additional costly tests or invasive treatments that may otherwise be required, at a significant savings to the overall healthcare expense.

Although current cancer patients will benefit from PET/CT testing, the scan will also be a vital tool in assessing the course of action with patients who, for instance, come in for surgery and have a routine chest x-ray that reveals a lung nodule. With the PET/CT scan, a biopsy of the nodule is often not necessary.

Currently, PET is used in the diagnosis, staging and treatment planning of lung, lymphoma, colorectal, melanoma, breast cancer, heart viability, epilepsy, esophageal and head and neck cancer. PET is expected to be approved in studies evaluating Alzheimer’s disease.

Kinzer says that FWR radiologists will receive advanced training on PET/CT, with a core group sharing the workload. Fort Wayne Radiology and Parkview’s extensive Digital technology (network) will allow other physicians to receive and be able to view the PET/CT results on their own computers immediately.

Dr. John Crawford, a local radiation oncologist who is enthusiastic about the new PET/CT technology coming to the Fort Wayne area, says PET/CT scanning will improve the physician’s cure rate while also reducing normal tissue complications. “This helps physicians to more accurately target the area of cancer that needs to be treated with radiation. This also helps us more accurately protect normal tissue that does not need to be treated with radiation,” Crawford says.

Desiring to be the premier cancer center in the area, Fort Wayne Radiology and Parkview Health have joined forces once again in a collaborative effort to bring the PET/CT scanner to the Fort Wayne area.

“We have been evaluating this technology for several years,” says Dennis Warner, senior vice president of professional services at Parkview Hospital. “Parkview is excited to work collaboratively with Fort Wayne Radiology in bringing this new technology to our community,” he says.

The PET/CT facility, PET Fusion Imaging, located in the Fort Wayne Radiology Building near the Parkview North Medical Campus, at 3707 New Vision Drive, will be open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Patients desiring more information should contact their primary care or oncology physician.

Cancer—just the whispered word can send an earthquake of fear through an individual awaiting the results of a test; it affects an estimated 10 million people worldwide. Cancer spreads silently in the body. By the time symptoms appear, it is often too late for effective treatment. PET may help to expose this “silent” disease. Yet, with early detection and precise and accurate treatment, the ominous specter of cancer can continue to be whittled down to size. The introduction of the new PET/CT hybrid scanner by Fort Wayne Radiology and Parkview Health is an exciting milestone for the medical community at large because the fusion of the two technologies is considered by experts to be the future in cancer imaging.