What better way to unveil a new molecular imaging business than in an exhibit hall packed with people whose job is dedicated to improving healthcare by advancing molecular imaging and therapy? GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) is debuting its new molecular imaging business this week at the 56th annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM; Reston, Virginia) in Tor-onto. By doing so, the company says it is presenting a new vision for molecular imaging, "Understanding disease. From the beginning."

In the exhibit hall, GE is featuring SPECT/CT, PET/CT, radiopharmacy and pre-clinical technologies that it says address some of the biggest issues facing healthcare providers. These issues include inaccuracy caused by motion in PET/CT imaging, the need for better visualization of disease and efficient workflow in SPECT/CT, faster throughput for pre-clinical imaging and more consistent and compliant imaging agent production in radiopharmaceuticals.

"Looking at the future of healthcare, we understood the need to dedicate an entire business segment to molecular imaging," said Terri Bresenham, newly appointed VP of GE Healthcare's molecular imaging business. "We are in the unique position of providing a complete portfolio of clinically-relevant offerings, from imaging agents to imaging systems. At GE, we have the capability to provide single touch-point solutions to our global customers."

As the Discovery PET/CT 600 series continues to expand, GE introduced the Discovery PET/CT 690 – a molecular imaging tool designed to go beyond the needs of the clinical practice and provide the necessary tools and technologies to explore the future of PET/CT imaging.

From a noisy SNM exhibit hall yesterday, Lynn Bender, global marketing leader for the PET/CT business at GE, told Medical Device Daily that the Discovery PET/CT 690 has been well-received at the meeting so far.

"We are getting a tremendous amount of traffic at our booth, people are excited and asking to see images," Bender said. She said GE has clinical images to show attendees that demonstrate the image quality of the new PET/CT system and also that the injected dose is lower and exam times are shorter.

With specialized detector configuration designed for sensitivity, event throughput and efficiency, researchers and clinicians have the necessary speed in workflow, protocol flexibility and unique timing resolution technology to help forge new frontiers in clinical techniques, drug discovery and motion management, according to GE.

All of the Discovery PET/CT 600 Series products incorporate MotionFree imaging technologies into the clinical workflow, the company noted. Bender said the system allows clinicians and researchers to align PET and CT gated images to compensate for movement in all regions of the body, most importantly those regions subject to respiration motion. GE's MotionFree imaging technology on the Discovery PET/CT 690 is integrated with VUE Point FX, an advanced high-definition reconstruction technique incorporating the element of time. Combined, these technologies have the potential to improve small lesion detection, image quality, and better therapy response monitoring, according to the company.

Bender said that the MotionFree imaging technology is "extremely important for accuracy" and for providing a "good view of what's going on here in the body."

"Motion is one of the most clinically difficult issues when you do PET imaging," Bender said, noting that the exam can take anywhere between 15 minutes to 30 minutes. "Obviously patients are breathing, which is a good thing, but their organs move and tumors move during that time period."

Bender said the other key parameter in PET imaging is sensitivity and that with the Discovery PET/CT 690 GE has the highest sensitivity in the industry. "That also helps us with potential lower dose and lower scan times," she said.

Workflow is also an important consideration in PET imaging, Bender noted. As PET centers and institutions build their patient volume, it's important that the technologists be able to go between the PET and CT easily, she said.

"With the Discovery PET/CT family of products, we bring flexibility to the market," said Jim Mitchell, general manager of GE Healthcare's PET business. "We deliver platforms designed to meet the immediate needs of clinicians, while providing researchers with tools to explore the future of molecular imaging."

GE also showcased its Alcyone Technology, a nuclear cardiology platform combining cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) detectors, focused pin-hole collimation, 3-D reconstruction, and stationary data acquisition, to improve workflow, dose management, and overall image quality. According to the company, Alcyone's focused multi-pinhole collimation has been strategically positioned to view cardiac anatomy and pathology with greater clarity and speed, resulting in scan times as short as three minutes. Unlike conventional nuclear imaging, all views are acquired simultaneously during a fully stationary SPECT acquisition, eliminating equipment movement during the scan and reducing the risk of motion artifacts, GE said. Available in SPECT (Discovery NM 530c) and SPECT/CT (Discovery NM/CT 570c) configurations, Alcyone will take a department and its workflow to "new heights," the company said.

The Discovery NM/CT 570c SPECT/CT system featuring Alcyone has the ability to perform a complete cardiac acquisition in less than five minutes including myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), computed tomographic angiography (CTA), and calcium scoring (CaSC), according to GE. The system also improves dose management, and enables more convenient patient scheduling in comparison to separate, conventional SPECT and CT exams, the company said.

"We are focused on advancing the field of molecular imaging to help all clinicians see disease earlier than ever before, specifically in the areas of neurodegenerative diseases, cardiology, and oncology," said Will Downie, molecular imaging leader for GE Healthcare's Medical Diagnostics business. "We are proud to be a leading voice emphasizing the value of molecular imaging and its impact on early diagnosis and treatment."

GE recently launched a company-wide health initiative dubbed "Healthymagination," in line with the renowned, environmentally conscious, Ecomagination program. Healthymagination is focused on sustainable health, enabled by innovation that lowers cost, improves quality and touches more people, the company said.

"Our commitment to understanding disease from the beginning and utilizing this understanding for innovation, has the opportunity to revolutionize healthcare," Bresenham said. "At GE, we view innovation as a way to lower the costs in healthcare and improve the quality of outcomes for more people."