Faster, Clearer Diagnostic Imaging with 3D Full-Body Scanner Arriving Soon
EXPLORER is a full-body scanner that combines x-ray computed tomography (CT) with positron emission tomography (PET) that produces the world’s first head-to-toe medical scans. With this new technology, imaging studies are generated 40 times faster than existing PET scans. The scanner was produced after years of exhaustive research, combining the efforts of scientists at UC Davis and world-class engineers from Shanghai-based United Imaging Healthcare (UIH).
EXPLORER can produce a full-body scan in as little as 30 seconds, whereas in the past, less capable scans required as much as 40 minutes to produce images which weren’t nearly as detailed or sensitive. EXPLORER is approximately 40 times more sensitive than even the best current commercial system used for medical scans, with the added benefit of much lower radiation emission from the full-body scanner as it catches radiation more readily than current imaging machines.
Total body PET scans are currently performed in segments, or slices, which take a minimum of 30-40 minutes to develop and then combined to reveal a 3D image of the body. EXPLORER captures the image of the entire body as little as one second as radiotracers are detected and followed from the outside as they circulate within the body.
Applications of the full-body scanner include studying the metabolism of drugs and observing cellular respiration in real time for research purposes. Cancer progression can be tracked in actual time, not to mention the efficacy of a new therapy on multi-drug resistant tumors. Due to the efficient absorption of radiation by the machine, use in pediatric populations shows great promise, who generally have far less tolerance to radiation emission than adults.
Projected use of EXPLORER on a large scale is June 2019 in Sacramento, California. Initially, the first subjects of the full-body scanner will be research participants, though efforts are underway to expedite human trials so it can be available for commercial use.
Using Urine Odor for Prostate Cancer Diagnosis Noninvasively
A device known as Odoreader can accurately detect signs of prostate cancer by essentially “sniffing out” urine. Scientists at University of Liverpool in conjunction with University of the West of England in Bristol originally developed Odoreader in 2013 to analyze urine samples for bladder cancer by examining odors in the specimen. Researchers claim 100 percent were accurately diagnosed with bladder cancer in 98 urine samples using this method. Now, this technique is being adapted to noninvasively diagnose prostate cancer.
Current prostate cancer screenings include measuring prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men through a blood test, which are not specific to prostate cancer. Elevated PSA levels can also indicate prostatitis (inflamed prostate) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate. PSA levels above 4.0 ng/mL are considered high and a prostate biopsy is usually performed to confirm cancer diagnosis. Over time, scientists have found PSA measurements revealed too many false-positives, as well as false-negatives, to be used as a reliable screening method, not to mention unnecessary prostate biopsies were performed as a result.
Odoreader is a machine that uses gas chromatography to analyze odors emitted in urine. A mix of heated tin and zin oxide is used as a detector in the column (in the gas chromatography oven) and heats the liquid urine sample into a gas. As the gas moves along the 98-feet column, adsorption rate varies by molecules found in the sample, which is used to identify cancer cells by comparing the readings to an algorithm. Results are displayed on a computer screen within 30 minutes.
Urine samples from 155 men were analyzed using Odoreader and diagnosed 58 men with prostate cancer, 24 men with bladder cancer, and 73 men as having a weak stream with hematuria (blood in urine) without cancer. Accuracy rate of diagnosing prostate cancer was 90 percent and over 95 percent for bladder cancer, compared to PSA screenings which amount to 65-75 percent accuracy.
If Odoreader passes clinical trials, using urine odor for cancer diagnosis will be hot on the heels of urologists and save several men from undergoing needless painful prostate biopsies.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved PillCam COLON, a pill-sized camera that passes through the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) when swallowed. The ingestible camera is approved for use after a failed colonoscopy as an alternative to x-rays, CT scans, and double-contrast barium enemas.
Colonoscopy is a procedure where an endoscope—a long, thin tube with a camera and a light attached to one end—is inserted through the rectum to display the interior lining of the large intestine, or the bowel. Approximately 750,000 incomplete colonoscopies occur every year in the US due to patient discomfort, a colon with many twists, hernias, or postoperative adhesions. PillCam COLON delivers streaming color video similar to that of a colonoscopy and allows the gastroenterologist to finish the colon examination with a minimally invasive and radiation-free procedure.
PillCam COLON video capsule is 0.47 x 1.3 inches (12 x 33 mm) and outfitted with two tiny color video cameras, one on each end, a LED light source, and a battery. After being swallowed, PillCam relays 4 or 35 frames for 10 hours to a recording device worn by patient. Patients are warned to stay away from strong electromagnetic fields, such as an MRI machine, until the capsule is excreted.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a colonoscopy every 10 years for both men and women once they turn 50 to screen for suspicious and possibly malignant polyps. For those with a family history of colorectal cancer, recommended screening is earlier than 50.
With PillCam COLON, an incomplete colonoscopy no longer remains inconclusive while leaving the patient at a quandary as to the next step. Currently, PillCam is in use in over 80 countries, with the US soon joining its ranks.
PillCam COLON is manufactured by Given Imaging, manufacturer of GIT medical equipment.