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A brand new gamma camera which is now installed in Wellington Hospital means patients have access to technology that is restricted to just a few sites in the world.
The new SPECT-CT gamma camera for nuclear medicine has just started being used and provides a much improved scan image for medical staff when diagnosing patients.
The single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a non-invasive imaging system which allows clinicians to view the function and metabolism of cells in the body. The new machine combines this with an enhanced computed tomography (CT) which uses X-rays to produce detailed anatomical pictures.
The equipment provides higher resolution images, can zoom in closer and is easier to manoeuvre to the correct position to get the best possible image. It’s also quicker at taking the images and emits lower radiation levels compared with older equipment.
The table is designed for the comfort of patients, including being more open so patients don’t feel confined, while the machine allows for normal breathing throughout most procedures. The table can hold patients who weigh up to 227kg and has the largest girth of any scanner, and the manoeuvrability of the scanner means it can scan patients standing up, sitting down or on another bed.
The technology provides a new way of acquiring CT data, encompassing the entire volume of an area rather than looking only at 2-D slices, as a conventional CT does.
“The new machine really is a great leap forward in technology, allowing us to fuse together two kinds of images. It means we can see things in greater detail and gives us a much clearer picture of what is going on inside a patient’s body,” says Nuclear Medicine Technical Imaging Specialist, Christopher Salt.
“Patients who can benefit from this new machine include heart patients – as it has increased accuracy and sensitivity – cancer patients and those with things like lesions or abscesses in places where they were previously difficult to see.”
The new equipment cost about $1 million and was installed over a two week period after arriving from the United States. Clinicians were keen to have the machine up and running as quickly as possible, with the first patient scanned within a day after it was fully installed.