GE talks up SPECT performance at European nuclear medicine meeting

September 15, 2004

Visitors to June’s Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting in Philadelphia may have glimpsed the future of SPECT imaging with news of systems from Philips and Siemens that marry multislice CT and SPECT (DI SCAN 6/28/04). But it takes two modalities to build a hybrid, and while GE Healthcare’s own offering still relies on single-slice CT technology, the company is ramping up the metabolic imaging end of its SPECT/CT system.

Visitors to June's Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting in Philadelphia may have glimpsed the future of SPECT imaging with news of systems from Philips and Siemens that marry multislice CT and SPECT (DI SCAN 6/28/04). But it takes two modalities to build a hybrid, and while GE Healthcare's own offering still relies on single-slice CT technology, the company is ramping up the metabolic imaging end of its SPECT/CT system.

GE introduced the Infinia nuclear medicine system at last year's SNM meeting. The single-head gamma camera was designed to incorporate features common to dual-head cameras, coupling maximum flexibility in scanning position with high throughput. GE has now upgraded its flagship product to further enhance workflow in response to customer feedback, said Pascale Witz, general manager of functional and molecular imaging for GE Healthcare International.

"Productivity is one of the critical parameters that our customers are looking for, and this has improved even more compared with what we had on the first release of Infinia," Witz said, speaking from the European Association of Nuclear Medicine's annual congress in Helsinki, Finland, where the system made its European debut earlier this month.

New features on the next-generation Infinia include fanbeam collimation for enhanced SPECT brain scanning efficiency and resolution and a camera-based PET option for extended clinical utility. Revised detector design will permit scanning in more patient positions, while an intuitive camera-controlled graphic user interface is expected to enhance productivity. GE's Ignite feature, available through its integrated Xeleris workstation, gives operators a single-click scan-and-review option.

GE is also equipping the latest release Infinia with SmartStep technology. This adjustable acquisition step is intended to improve CT axial resolution when Infinia is linked with GE's four-year-old Hawkeye hybrid imaging technology to offer a SPECT/CT solution.

The upgraded Infinia Hawkeye remains sufficiently accurate to aid anatomic localization of metabolic SPECT information but not to provide stand-alone diagnostic CT data. And for the time being, this is enough, according to Witz.

"We have been in the market for hybrid imaging for several years. This brings even more credibility to our hybrid imaging technology," she said. "From a clinical point of view, Infinia Hawkeye can perform all the SPECT clinical examinations that you want, and this is demonstrated by the 450-plus sites around that world that are using it."

Next-generation Infinia and Infinia Hawkeye configurations are ready to ship worldwide. GE is already in the process of installing models in Europe, Asia, and North America. The system is likely to be showcased again at the November RSNA meeting, although the company has yet to finalize details of its Chicago display, Witz said. She also declined to comment on whether GE's future offerings might include multislice SPECT/CT, as those of its rivals will.

"We know that hybrid imaging is providing the localization information that adds a lot of value to the SPECT data, so we will keep on working on new technology, on both the SPECT and the Hawkeye sides," she said. "If we find that there are some needs or a clinical application that needs more development, we will certainly go in that direction."