Kathleen M. Dallessio
In anticipation of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) Annual
Meeting this month,
recently spoke with Gina Larkin, Marketing Manager for Nuclear
Medicine at Marconi Medical Systems, Cleveland, OH, about recent
advances in nuclear medicine.
What are some important developments in nuclear medicine?
In nuclear medicine in general, one of the most exciting things is
the growth rate in the dedicated positron emission tomography (PET)
arena. Another is the fusion package, that is, the overlaying of
the anatomic image with the physiologic image with either a nuclear
PET gamma camera or magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography
(CT). This technique is something that our customers are interested
in. In addition, I believe workflow is always very important and
something that the market is progressing in. With the HCFA
reimbursement situation, the coincidence imaging on a PET gamma
camera is an issue.
One other thing I can add is the issue of non-uniform
attenuation correction and the fact that the market is currently
trying to validate its viewpoints. There is some controversy over
whether this is a necessary thing and if it improves image quality
and diagnosis or if something that's just "nice to have."
What do you believe the final outcome of this controversy will
Based on some of the clinical research that I have seen to date, I
believe that it will certainly be something that will start to lead
the industry. I think by the ASNC meeting, in the September/October
time frame, there will be some growth in that area because
customers will have had some time to use it beyond its beta testing
and get some clinical images.
What will Marconi be displaying at the SNM meeting?
I'm pleased to announce that we will debut a dedicated PET center
at SNM. We will enter the market though a distribution agreement
with CTI PET Systems, Inc., of Knoxville, TN. We will market,
distribute, and service three types of PET scanners under the brand
name of Magellan. There will be three product codes, two with a BGO
detector and one with an LSO detector material. We will begin to
release those to our customers and our sales force at SNM.
In addition to that, we will release a new computer platform
called the Odyssey LX, which will replace the Odyssey FX. That
replacement will consist of significant user upgrades to enhance
speed and productivity, as well as clinical enhancements. It will
include several cardiac application packages for performing
perfusion and function testing. So instead of offering three
different models of the FX configuration, we will migrate over to
one offering in the Odyssey LX platform.
Of course, we will continue to focus on our gamma camera line
with emphasis on SPECT and PET imaging and non-uniform attenuation
Clearance granted to new radiotherapy treatment planning
Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (Palo Alto, CA) recently announced
that it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) to market the first high-performance
Windows-based treatment planning system for cancer radiotherapy.
The Eclipse 3D treatment planning and virtual simulation software
is designed to speed up treatment planning by automating many
"Eclipse puts the most advanced treatment planning tools on
users' desktops in a PC/Windows environment," said Timothy Guertin,
president of Varian Medical Systems' oncology business. "Eclipse
incorporates state-of-the-art treatment planning, graphics,
simulation, and dose visualization tools."
The software's tools allow clinicians to identify the contours
of cancerous tumors and surrounding healthy organs for more precise
treatment planning. These tools include 3D contouring in nonaxial
planes, Boolean logic-based structure creation, automatic 2D/3D
segmentation, and an organ-specific segmentation wizard.
The program employs several modes for showing dose
distributions, including 3D dose clouds, isodose surfaces, and
surface dose mapping. These features enable clinicians to visualize
whether a particular treatment strategy will provide adequate tumor
coverage, and where adjustments need to be made to avoid "hot" or
Eclipse is DICOM-compliant and can import and register any set
of DICOM images from anatomical and functional imaging devices such
as CT, MRI, PET, and SPECT. The software incorporates these images
to help define the region to be treated with radiation and to
establish radiation dosages.
Sagemark acquires Premier PET Imaging International,
The Sagemark Companies Ltd. recently acquired Premier PET
Imaging International, Inc.
Premier was formed to own and operate outpatient medical
diagnostic imaging centers throughout the United States utilizing
positron emission tomography (PET) scanning equipment. Its first
PET Center is under construction in Wichita, KS, and is expected to
commence operations in July 2001.
"We are excited to be involved in the PET medical imaging field,
providing noninvasive diagnostic procedures that are more accurate
than any other medical imaging procedure available today. The
Company believes that PET imaging is truly a revolutionary
technology that will save lives while appealing to an enormous
potential market" states Ted Shapiro, the President and CEO of
Stephen A. Schulman, MD, Chairman of the Board and Chief
Executive Officer of Premier, said, "I believe that the Kansas
facility will be the first in a succession of successful PET
centers that the company plans to own and operate throughout the
United States utilizing this remarkable technology."
Syncor and Heart Care Imaging join forces to support
Syncor International Corporation (Woodland Hills, CA) and Heart
Care Imaging (HCI) of Jupiter, FL, have announced a 2-year
agreement to jointly make their services available to support
positron emission tomography (PET) applications in outpatient
clinics, practice management groups, and hospitals in the
Mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States.
Rod Boone, President and Chief Executive Officer of Syncor's
Pharmacy Services division, said, "Through this agreement with HCI,
Syncor will be the sole provider of FDG, the most popular
radioisotope used in PET studies, to HCI's customers. Our
arrangement will provide outpatient clinics, practice management
groups, and hospitals greater access to this advanced medical
technology in a manner that is convenient and cost effective."
Robert Stilley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Heart
Care Imaging added, "Through the use of group purchasing
agreements, our extensive relationships within the healthcare
industry, and knowledge of licensing, financing and facility
management, HCI offers its clients a very effective outsourced
solution for improving the management of imaging services. By
extending our imaging management services to include PET, we are
helping doctors and their patients by providing greater access to
this critical diagnostic tool."
More from Marconi
New magnetic materials for MRI scanners developed
Marconi Medical Systems, in collaboration with physicists at
Imperial College of London, has developed a new magnetic material
that can be used in high magnetic field environments inside
magnetic resonance (MR) scanners. The material is expected to
improve performance by concentrating and shaping radiofrequency
(RF) flux patterns used in the acquisition of the MR image with
increased immunity to external disturbances.
The work involved collaboration between the physics department
of Imperial College, the Clinical Sciences Centre MR Unit of the
Imperial Medical School, and Marconi Caswell in the United
Micro-structured materials are part of a larger family called
photonic band gap materials, which have exotic properties,
including high magnetic permeability, electric permeability, and
refractive index. These parameters may even take negative values,
which has not been possible with previous materials, and may
produce dramatic physical effects. The micro-structured material is
designed specifically for application in MR systems and has a high
magnetic permeability for RF fields, but not for static fields. It
also has applications as a magnetic screen and, potentially, as a
The results of the first demonstration using this material as a
flux guide to image a human finger remotely suggests that this may
lead to dramatic improvements in the performance of magnetic
resonance scanners, delivering a faster and more effective medical
The research team is a collaboration among Dr. Michael Wiltshire
of Marconi Caswell Ltd., Professor John Pendry of the Imperial
College Physics Department, and Professors Joseph Hajnal and Ian
Young of the Robert Steiner Magnetic Resonance Unit, MRC Clinical
Sciences Centre. They published the results in the February 2, 2001