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New Machine Combines CT, PET Scans Into a Single Image

New Machine Combines CT, PET Scans Into a Single Image

NEW YORK—A new prototype machine is producing images that combine CT and scintillation-camera-based PET scans into a single image. In a presentation at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVII, Hak Choy, MD, professor of radiation oncology, Vanderbilt University, showed images of lung cancer produced by the new device—the GE Millennium VG—code-named “Hawkeye”.

The prototype being tested at Vanderbilt has been used in more than 20 cancer patients, about half with lung cancer, Dr. Choy said. He plans to use the machine to assess response in a lung cancer trial in which stage III patients will receive induction paclitaxel (Taxol), radiation, and surgery.

“This is in very early development,” Dr. Choy said in an interview with ONI. “There are currently only two such machines in the world.” One is at Vanderbilt, where scientists have worked with the company to produce the prototype machine, and the other is in Rambam Hospital, Haifa, Israel. Dr. Choy said that the equipment has been cleared by the FDA and could become commercially available in about 6 months.

“This machine should save time in the diagnostic workup,” he said, “and should be very accurate because you’re looking at an anatomical boundary based on the CT scan and the activity of the tissue in the PET scan simultaneously.”

Dr. Choy is also enthusiastic about the equipment’s potential usefulness in radiation therapy. Currently, in lung cancer, radiation oncologists base their target areas on CT scans or chest x-rays, he said. “Whenever we see an abnormality, we treat it as a cancer, but we don’t know whether it actually is a cancer or how much of it is a cancer,” he said. “By using the Hawkeye images, we can actually pinpoint the radiation beam to the active tumor—at least in theory.”

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