SNMMI 2013: Siemens Takes The Wraps Off Two Major Innovations

June 11, 2013
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Siemens Healthcare saved its best for first, announcing the firm’s presence at the 2013 annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) in Vancouver, Canada with two significant imaging innovations that have been in the works for nearly a decade.

Siemens Healthcare saved its best for first, announcing the firm’s presence at the 2013 annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) in Vancouver, Canada with two significant imaging innovations that have been in the works for nearly a decade.

Hate stop and go traffic? In molecular imagining, this is when a patient is scanned literally in pieces at different stations. Siemens unveiled its answer, the Biograph mCT Flow, a “groundbreaking” positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) system that offers an alternative to bed-based PET/CT with FlowMotion, a radically new technology that moves the patient seamlessly through the system’s gantry, while continuously acquiring PET data.

A second innovation is Symbia Intevo, the world’s first xSPECT system, combining the high sensitivity of single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with the high specificity of CT. This integrates the data from the two modalities to generate high resolution images and, quantitative images.

Dr. James Williams, CEO of Siemens Molecular Imaging, described these innovations as “disruptive technologies” that revolutionize the modalities.

“Innovations only make sense if they make a clinical difference, that is, they improve clinical outcomes and make health care providers more efficient,” said Dr. Bernd Montag, CEO, Siemens Healthcare Imaging and Therapy Systems Division.

Biograph mCT with FlowMotion is designed to make the health provider more efficient, while providing better imaging and a more comfortable and useful experience for the patient. Alexander Zimmermann, Siemens vice president of marketing and sales for molecular imaging, said this is the biggest development in the modality for 10 years. “We were always trying to fit the human anatomy into the rigid design of the scanner instead of fitting the scanner to the anatomy,” he explained.

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Since every organ in the human body is unique, some present additional barriers to obtaining the necessary image quality to support confident diagnoses. Conventional PET/CT scanners are limited to the fixed size of the system’s detector field of view for each bed position. Biograph mCT Flow dispenses with the limitations of fixed bed positions and, using continuous motion of the patient table, the technician can easily adjust the examination parameters such as speed, image resolution and motion management to the precise dimensions of organs and routinely incorporate these into a single scan for every patient.

Additionally, FlowMotion eliminates overscanning and provides a minimum dose at maximum speed. Siemens said the new system can realize a CT dose reduction of up to 32 percent, dependent on number of beds, which answers one of the chief concerns of the industry today. Kirk Frey, MD, PhD, director of the PET Center, University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, Michigan, who has been using the system said “It’s the end of stop-and-go.”

“The system’s FlowMotion anatomy-based scanning approach helps enable physicians to make a more confident diagnosis based on high quality images for each patient, as well as accurate and reproducible quantification for treatment planning and monitoring,” said Williams.

Symbia Intevo is also designed to improve the patient experience and provide a quicker diagnosis. This xSPECT system “provides clinical sensitivity and specificity in making a diagnosis,” said Jerry Froelich, MD, director of nuclear medicine/molecular imaging, University of Minnesota. “I can give a patient an answer after this exam.”

In traditional SPECT/CT imaging, the SPECT image has always been reconstructed at a low resolution matrix — much lower than the CT portion of the exam. As a result, the CT resolution must be downgraded dramatically to the level of SPECT to enable mechanical fusion of the two modalities. The new system, really a whole new modality, Zimmermann said, reconstructs both the SPECT and CT portions of the image into a much higher frame of reference than previous systems for precise, accurate alignment producing integration and accurate medical information.

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This precise alignment provides essential volumetric information from the CT scan, enabling accurate quantitative assessment — a numerical indication of a tumor’s level of metabolic activity — and better judgement on a course of treatment. “Before, because we couldn’t achieve precision alignment,” Zimmermann said, “we couldn’t do quantification.”

SymbiaIntevo, QuantSPECT and xSPECT are pending 510(k) clearance by the FDA and are not yet commercially available in the United States. Biograph mCT Flow and FlowMotion have cleared 510(k) approval.