Hitachi unveils PET/CT scanner at Society of Nuclear Medicine show

July 16, 2004

Customers in the market for a PET/CT may soon have a new choice. The FDA is reviewing Hitachi Medical Systems' Sceptre P3, an LSO-based rotational PET scanner outfitted with a quad-slice CT. Hitachi is planning a fourth-quarter commercial release of the

Customers in the market for a PET/CT may soon have a new choice. The FDA is reviewing Hitachi Medical Systems' Sceptre P3, an LSO-based rotational PET scanner outfitted with a quad-slice CT. Hitachi is planning a fourth-quarter commercial release of the system, pending a positive FDA review. A U.S. beta site is scheduled to begin operating this summer.

The work-in-progress, shown for the first time at the June Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting in Philadelphia, is the next logical step for the company, which two years ago began marketing the Sceptre PET scanner under a supply agreement with CPS of Knoxville, TN. It is also an essential step, if the company wants to maintain a credible presence in positron imaging.

"We see customers wanting to do PET on a PET/CT, which also gives them the chance to do some CTs in the afternoon for additional revenue," said Raymond Wtulich, product manager for positron tomography at Hitachi Medical.

The name Sceptre P3 (power of three) reflects the presence of three technologies now in the product line. The lutetium oxyorthosilicate-based partial-ring PET detector is supplied by CPS. It comprises LSO blocks that rotate on a slip-ring gantry. The detector system is enhanced by high-speed electronics developed by CPS to improve count rate, energy resolution, and scatter rejection.

The Avia workstation, which controls CT and PET scanners, as well as postprocesses their data sets (and, potentially, MR data from an outside source) utilizing Fusion7D software, is provided by CPS subsidiary Mirada. The third technology is Hitachi's homegrown quad-slice CT.

The SNM meeting marked the first U.S. appearance of a Hitachi-made multislice CT. The company several years ago supplied single-slice CTs for sale under Philips' label, but that practice stopped when Philips switched to multislice scanners of its own making. Hitachi continued developing CTs, however, for sale in Japan. Development of the Sceptre P3 provided an opportunity to bring CT back to the U.S., according to Wtulich.

The design of the hybrid product-a piggy-backing of CT and PET scanners-affords Hitachi's installed base a nonforklift upgrade path to hybrid scanning. Through the company's "Evolve" program, owners of the Sceptre PET can add the Hitachi quad-slice CT and swap out the existing table, while keeping the PET scanner in place. External cowling turns the two end-to-end scanners into one.

The Hitachi PET/CT includes several other unique features, including an illumination port and vented air flow inside the gantry, as well as back-up attenuation correction. The patient comfort features came from discussions with people attending community healthcare fairs. The attenuation correction back-up was a practical consideration, according to Wtulich. A transmission source built into the Sceptre P3 can be used to cover areas of the body containing metal implants, such as a hip replacement, which would likely produce artifacts if CT is used. It can also fill in if the CT goes down unexpectedly, due to a blown tube, for example.

"This way, if the (radiopharmaceutical) is ordered or injected in the patient, the imaging center doesn't lose the cost of the dose and the patient doesn't have to come back," he said.

The system will be competitively priced, Wtulich said. The primary target will be Hitachi's stronghold, the entrepreneurial freestanding imaging clinics that the company has leveraged successfully with its open MR scanners. Interest shown at the SNM meeting by large institutions, however, may signify an opportunity to broaden the market.