What exactly is PET/CT? It is the combination of PET (positron emission tomography) and CT (computed tomography) imaging techniques within a single machine. PET provides information about the body’s chemistry, metabolic activity and body function, while CT supplies the anatomic images to put this information in context. Combined, PET/CT not only helps doctors determine whether a patient has cancer—but it also helps them determine where the cancer is, if there are multiple tumors, if and where the cancer is spreading, and in what stage the cancer is. PET/CT can also help doctors determine if a tumor is responding to a specific course of treatment. It can be used to differentiate recurrent tumors and to evaluate the effectiveness of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
When it comes to accurate cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring, patients in developing countries such as India, Eastern Europe and Latin America, would benefit from advanced imaging technology. However, clinical PET/CT practice remains limited in many countries due to lack of equipment, experts and funding. New and sophisticated technologies usually require travel to specialized learning centers. With minimal experiences using advanced imaging modalities in the developing world, there is a strong need not just for equipment, but for qualified specialists.
For example, in Latin America enthusiasm runs high for PET/CT technology, but it is not accessible or affordable to many healthcare providers. By some estimates, within the next 10-years, Latin America will have approximately 35 PET units and the numbers are expected to rise. Despite the significant investment required and the training of chemists, physicists, physicians and technologists, many published studies point to PET/CT as being cost-effective in the treatment of oncology in the region**. Developing countries are embracing PET/CT at a fast pace. With the availability of machines that put patients first with low dose imaging and greater patient comfort, we believe there will be greater acceptance of the advanced technology. New advancements offer a simplified user interface and streamlined workflow to meet the needs of the entry level buyers. PET/CT systems are available at more affordable prices with advanced features and comprehensive capability, and offer healthcare providers a solid investment that’s fully upgradeable when they’re ready to expand.
New systems will be built around everyday issues facing hospitals in developing countries. Providers are looking for affordable scanners, but not at the expense of superb image quality or dose reduction. They want to detect the smallest lesions, and reconstruct images reliably and quickly, allowing decision-making before a patient is even off the table. Plus, with growing healthcare costs globally, healthcare providers worldwide need to do more with the equipment they have and want the assurance that if their capabilities grow, their future needs can be met, protecting their investment. As the size, scope and makeup of imaging volume changes, providers want a PET/CT system that will be able to grow along with those future changes.
Medical imaging technologies have undergone rapid growth over the past two decades. Today, imaging is at a crossroad, with molecular targeted imaging agents expected to broadly expand the capabilities of conventional anatomical imaging methods. From high definition imaging to low dose CT features, efficient workflow and image reconstruction, PET/CT for developing countries will give healthcare providers a strong investment value, a streamlined scanning experience and help patients get through the experience in a comfortable environment. GE Healthcare is listening to its customers to deliver PET/CT scanners that are not only a study in efficiency; they get high marks for being patient friendly and affordable.