Philips launches speedy time-of-flight PET/CT

March 6, 2006

Philips Medical Systems chose opening day of the ECR to release the world’s first commercial time-of-flight PET/CT system. The system, scheduled to begin shipping to sites in Europe and the U.S. in June, will more than double image sensitivity, according to the company, allowing users to either markedly improve image quality or cut scan time by a third or more.

Philips Medical Systems chose opening day of the ECR to release the world's first commercial time-of-flight PET/CT system. The system, scheduled to begin shipping to sites in Europe and the U.S. in June, will more than double image sensitivity, according to the company, allowing users to either markedly improve image quality or cut scan time by a third or more.

Imagers will be able to perform whole-body PET scans with the Gemini TF (True Flight) in less than 10 minutes, compared with 15 minutes or longer using conventional systems. This will hold true even for obese patients, who generally require additional scan time on conventional systems, said Jim Cavanaugh, director of global marketing for Philips Nuclear Medicine PET/CT.

Users of the Gemini TF could instead acquire data for the usual time period and generate images with increased sensitivity or specificity, said Piotr Maniawski, Philips' senior marketing manager for PET/CT development.

"Those who don't care about time can choose to spend the usual length of a procedure and get a lot better image quality than they can today," he said.

Philips has been testing beta versions of the new scanner since November, Maniawski said. Studies have produced enough data to make the Philips team confident the technology can meet its clinical potential, Cavanaugh said.

Trade-offs in time and image quality, along with the algorithms built into Gemini TF, offer the possibility of fine-tuning a scan to meet differing clinical needs. Images can be acquired with the same diagnostic quality as current ones but in a third less time. Or time can be held constant but noise cut in half, while holding contrast resolution at a constant. Alternatively, contrast can be enhanced, while keeping noise at a constant.

If physicians want to use the system to detect absolutely everything, they could create an image with high contrast and a standard amount of noise. If they want to check whether a suspected lesion is, in fact, cancer, they could choose a less noisy image with lower contrast to visualize only the larger, more aggressive tumors.

"It is all a trade-off between specificity and sensitivity," Cavanaugh said. "It is really how the user wants the system to perform."

With a CE mark and FDA clearance in hand, Philips chose to unveil the product at the ECR with follow-up showings at Academy of Molecular Imaging and Society of Nuclear Medicine conferences leading up to its routine shipping start in June. Regulatory clearances for Japan and China are expected in the fourth quarter of 2006.