- High-tech machine can scan an adult’s entire body in five minutes
Ultra-sensitive 3D body scanners are a “big step” towards treating cancer, dementia and other serious illnesses, health chiefs said last night.
The “revolutionary” high-tech machines can perform a full-body scan of an adult in five minutes and a child in one minute, experts say.
They provide a single scan of the body rather than multiple images like current machines, making them faster and more sensitive, so they can potentially detect smaller abnormalities and tumours.
For the first time in the UK, two of the machines will be available to patients after being installed at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust in London and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
PET-CT scans can be used in cancer patients to detect whether the disease has spread or show in precise detail whether a treatment has worked to completely shrink a tumor.
Ultra-sensitive 3D body scanners are a “big step” forward in the treatment of cancer, dementia and other serious illnesses, health chiefs said last night (File Photo)
For those with heart disease, they can show whether medications are working to clear blockages within blood vessels. And for dementia patients, they can show the buildup of harmful molecules in the brain.
There are around 70 PET-CT scanners in the UK, which require the patient to be injected into the body with a slightly radioactive substance that attaches to tumors or blood clots to show their location.
But the sensors in these machines typically only pick up radiation that covers an area of about 20 centimeters (eight inches).
It means patients have repeated scans taken at multiple times as they are pushed through the machine, and the images are stitched together.
A full-body PET scanner has many more sensors covering four times the area and is capable of imaging most of the body at once. Not only are the images likely to be more detailed and detect smaller tumors, but they also require a lower dose of radioactive substance for patients, potentially making them safer and faster for children.
“Revolutionary” high-tech machines can perform a full-body scan of an adult in five minutes and a child in one minute, experts say (File Photo)
Full-body machines will produce images much faster: current scanners take 20 minutes for adults and ten minutes for young children.
Dr Sam Godfrey, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This technology could be a game-changer… in understanding the impact of cancer on the whole body.”
Professor Lucy Chappell, chief scientific adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care, called the development “a huge step forward for clinical research”.
The project has been supported by £32 million from the Government through the UK Research and Innovation Infrastructure Fund.
Dr Juliana Maynard, from Medicines Discovery Catapult, said: “Full-body PET scans can detect serious diseases with unprecedented speed and accuracy.”