The term "healthcare" — which, of course, is too often really a misnomer for "sickcare" — is being reinterpreted by the marketing efforts of GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin), notably this year at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's (SNM; Reston, Virginia) annual meeting at the Metro Convention Center in Toronto.

Speaking from the convention floor, Karthik Kuppusamy, general manager of GE Healthcare's Americas Functional Imaging Business, told Diagnostics & Imaging Week that the company's emphasis on imaging is not simply the detection of disease but to "predict, then prevent." And he compared GE's new imaging offerings, as contrasted with previous imaging products, to the evolution of VHS videotape to DVD.

The advance is best highlighted by GE Healthcare's introduction of the Discovery STE system, which it calls "a fusion of the high-speed, high-resolution capabilities of GE's computed tomography [CT] scanner with the metabolic and physiologic capabilities of its positron emission tomography [PET] scanner."

Hadi Moufarrej, general manager of global functional imaging at GE Healthcare, said, "With PET/CT we're increasing the opportunity of an earlier diagnosis for our patients. In many cases disease can be successfully treated — if doctors can detect and intervene early. And for patients who've successfully battled cancer, the trick is keeping it at bay." He said that the PET/CT combination "allows physicians to see cancer earlier, localize and personalize treatment and carefully monitor that treatment. It's the tool of choice for oncology applications today and we're excited to see how it can transform other clinical specialties."

Besides offering the combined modalities for improved image quality, Kuppusamy said Discovery STE provides "instant and graphic access" to the image data acquired and also "streamlines the complete workflow."

While PET/CT is most commonly used for cancer diagnosis and treatment planning, its use is expanding into other areas, according to the company, including cardiovascular and neurology imaging — which are becoming high-demand clinical areas as the population ages and becomes more susceptible to age-related illness and disease.

For cardiovascular imaging, the Discovery platform allows physicians to access essential metabolic and anatomical data including perfusion map at rest and stress, CT angiography and cardiac calcium score. The information can help physicians accurately diagnose cardiac patients and help eliminate unnecessary invasive procedures.

Among other product introductions by GE Healthcare at the meeting, it rolled out what it termed "a significant expansion" of its line of PET radiopharmacy equipment used by hospitals, research institutions and distribution pharmacies worldwide to produce radiotracers used in PET imaging.

GE's PETtrace10 now will offer PET radiopharmaceutical users increased capacity for producing PET radioisotopes

Alexander Tokman, general manager of global radiopharmacy and molecular imaging at GE Healthcare, said the company is providing "the highest capacity, multi-isotope capable cyclotron and that "higher capacity can be translated into shorter production runs."

PETtrace10 is a dual-particle, dual-extraction cyclotron that can deliver 10Ci of 18F- in two hours. Its higher capacity and ability to produce most research isotopes is expected to broaden the use of PET and PET/CT technologies worldwide. PET and PET/CT procedures utilize fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) which when injected into a patient provides useful functional and anatomic information for oncological, neurological and cardiac evaluations.

"PETtrace10 will be an essential component not only for any commercial PET distribution operation but also for any high powered molecular imaging program because in addition to the high capacity, yield and reliability it provides the access to all widely used PET isotopes required for development of new, promising PET research tracers," Tokman said.

GE Healthcare bills itself as the leading global cyclotron provider, with more than 150 installations worldwide.

In other product rollouts by companies at the SNM meeting:

Following a path similar to GE Healthcare, Cedara (Toronto) featured its PET/CT Workstation, enabling the fusion of PET and CT images. With PET/CT image fusion, physicians can unite physiology and anatomy, allowing tumors to be seen in relation to their surrounding tissue. Combined PET/CT imaging is particularly useful in organ diagnosis, where tumor boundaries can be difficult to discern.

Lorelle Lapstra, chief architect at Cedara, said that the Cedara PET/CT Workstation breaks away from historic methods of showing PET/CT images. "Layouts are split across dual monitors allowing concurrent review of CT, PET Corrected, PET Uncorrected and PET/CT Fused and images, among others," Lapstra said. Each image set can be simultaneously navigated through rigid registration, and common PACS tools such as measurement and 3-D rotation are included.

Addressing needs in cancer treatment, Cedara also demonstrated a work-in-progress application based on diffusion-weighted MRI tumor analysis. Differing from standard techniques used to evaluate cancer treatment, diffusion-weighted MRI evaluates changes in water diffusion and Brownian motion to determine the impact of anti-cancer drugs and radiation therapy on certain tumors, according to the company.

By giving radiologists a tool to study tumor activity at both the molecular and anatomical level, this technology may provide the foundation on which fast, efficient and personalized treatment planning can develop, Cedara said.

Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pennsylvania) introduced its Symbia S system, expanding on the Symbia family of TruePoint SPECT-CT (Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography and Computed Tomography) system. The Symbia S, a SPECT-only offering, enables medical facilities an entry to the molecular imaging environment, with the option to upgrade to a range of attenuation correction, anatomical mapping and CT options.

The system features High-Definition Dynamic Digital Detectors (HD), Flash 3-D technology and workflow automation allowing, the company said, "for integration into a variety of clinical settings.

Built on a single, integrated platform, Symbia S can be upgraded to become Siemens' most advanced hybrid imaging solution, TruePoint SPECT-CT. Combining the sensitivity of SPECT with the anatomical detail of diagnostic multislice computed tomography, Symbia TruePoint SPECT-CT provides clinicians with greatly improved imaging clarity and diagnostic confidence.

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