Combo scanner cuts radiation dose by half

Combining positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance scans, medical researchers from Norway created a cancer scanner that uses half the amount of radiation typically used for such procedures.

Four researchers, led by Erlend Bolle, who studies particle physics in the Department of Physics at the University of Oslo, accomplished the feat by first creating a PET machine small enough to fit inside an MR machine, according to an article published this month in the school's research magazine, Apollon. That allowed for both kinds of scans to run simultaneously on one patient.

The combo scanner has double the sensitivity of conventional PET scanners, meaning that patients don't have to be centrally positioned to produce a quality image. "In practice," Bolle said, according to the magazine, "we can take the pictures twice as fast, or only use half of the radioactive dose in order to get the same image quality as previously."

Currently, the scanner has been built for animals, but Bolle said it "easily" could be rebuilt to be used by hospitals.

Combination scanners have been tested in healthcare before. In a study published in April in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that PET technology combined with CT technology could help doctors to predict a patient's risk of having a heart attack.

Meanwhile, a study released by market research firm Kalorama Information in March concluded that using MR and ultrasound technology together boosts both patient care and growth for both imaging systems.

To learn more:
- here's the Apollon article

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