Combined PET/CT scanner from GE brings promise of earlier disease
5 July 2005
Toronto, Canada. GE Healthcare, a unit of General Electric Company, has
introduced the Discovery STE, a new molecular imaging system designed to
help doctors detect, diagnose and monitor treatment of cancer and other
diseases, including heart disease and neurological disease, more accurately
and earlier in the disease process.
The Discovery STE combines the high-speed, high-resolution capabilities of
GE's computed tomography (CT) scanner with the metabolic and physiologic
capabilities of its industry-leading positron emission tomography (PET)
Medical Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates
integrated PET/CT exams provide extra information beyond that obtained with
visually correlated PET and CT in 41% of cases due to its proven pinpoint
accuracy in locating disease.
"With PET/CT we're increasing the opportunity of an earlier diagnosis for
our patients," said Hadi Moufarrej, general manager of global Functional
Imaging at GE Healthcare. "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. A PET/CT image
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
"Unfortunately not all patients have access to this type of advanced
imaging technology, but it's important they understand what a difference a
PET/CT scan can make in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer - time is
critical for cancer patients as cells multiply and spread," said Jacqueline
Brunetti, M.D., Directory of Radiology at Holy Name Hospital in New Jersey.
"With continuing developments in molecular-targeted cancer therapies,
molecular imaging systems are the wave of the future for medical imaging. As
data demonstrating the advantages of PET/CT over MRI and CT in early disease
detection continue to accumulate, it is reasonable to anticipate that PET/CT
imaging systems could become the "first line of defense" in optimization of
treatment for cancer patients," said Dr. Brunetti.
Expanding into new clinical areas
While PET/CT is most commonly used for cancer diagnosis and treatment
planning, its use is expanding into other areas, 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
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
made available through the combination system can help physicians accurately
diagnose cardiac patients and help eliminate unnecessary invasive
Marcelo Di Carli M.D., director of Nuclear Medicine/PET at Brigham and
Women's Hospital, Boston, is a recognized pioneer in cardiovascular imaging
using PET systems. "The PET/CT technology developed by GE Healthcare
continues to set the industry standard for diagnosing a variety of
cardiovascular diseases," he said. "It's an important tool in for diagnosis
and for planning patient management."
In neurology, clinicians have been making strides in earlier detection of
neurological diseases using PET/CT technology. Dr. Ed Coleman, vice chair
and professor of radiology at Duke University Medical Center and early
adopter of GE's PET/CT technology noted, "PET/CT is a great diagnostic tool
and the only non-invasive medical tool powerful enough to accurately image
and measure the metabolic function of neurological disorders."
The future of medical imaging
PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans are
both standard imaging tools that physicians use to pinpoint disease states
in the body. A PET scan demonstrates the biological function of the body
before anatomical changes take place, while the CT scan provides information
about the body's anatomy such as size, shape and location. By combining
these two scanning technologies, a PET/CT scan enables physicians to more
accurately diagnose and identify cancer, heart disease and brain disorders.
According to Moufarrej, images derived from the Discovery platform can be
compared to radar images showing weather patterns.
"The PET image shows concentrations of cancer cells in a color spectrum
just as weather radar shows varying concentrations of precipitation. The
anatomical image generated by the CT scan acts as the 'map' showing doctors
precisely where the cancer is located. The Discovery platform combines both
of these images and, like television radar, pinpoints activity and location
fused into one image," said Moufarrej.
GE has invested more than $160 million and created innovations covered by
more than 25 patents in the development of this technology. The company
first began its work combining images with the development of the GE
Millennium VG Hawkeye in 1999 and then launched the first commercially
available PET/CT, Discovery LS, in 2001.