A successful trial has been completed by the researchers, managing to detect & image radioactive tracers employed in SPECT and PET scans at the same time, with the hope of facilitating doctors to scan patients for abnormalities in a shorter span of time while reducing the amount of radiation patients would be exposed to.
With modern technology, patients who may have life-threatening diseases are needed to undergo a series of tests such as a Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography scan or Positron Emission Tomography scan to look for a particular disease, or check the functionality of their organs, respectively. Both SPECT and PET scanners require a small amount of radiation’s exposure by the patient, which then allows the devices to capture an image of the patient’s internal organs which are then analyzed by medical specialists. SPECT scans can only detect gamma rays at lower energies while PECT scans detect gamma rays with a relatively higher energy of 511 keV because collimators employed in SPECT become transparent for high energy gamma rays. Performing separate SPECT and PET scans is both exposes the patient to increased levels of radiation and is time-consuming.
A team headed by Professor Takashi Nakano at Gunma University Heavy Ion Medical Center, , a pioneer in heavy particle beam therapy in Japan, has been working for combining these procedures. They worked in collaboration with teams led by Professor Tadayuki Takahashi at Kavli Institute for the Physics & Mathematics of the Universe, and led by Naoki Kawachi at the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science & Technology, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency led by Assistant Prof. Shin Watanabe, & completed a successful clinical trial employing a newly-developed imaging diagnosis device known as ‘Compton camera’ which makes the detection of gamma rays possible both low and high energy ranges.
After plenty more trials, the researchers are positive that their imaging system will lead to new forms of medical analysis. Moreover, it could help in the creation of completely new radioactive tracers.