The Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM of Reston, Va.) reaches the half-century mark this month with its 50th annual meeting.

The city of New Orleans hosts the five-day forum of more than 3,600 physicians, scientists, pharmacists and technologists June 21 through June 25 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

For the past several years, nuclear medicine has reveled in a resurgence propelled in great part by the medical imaging virtues of positron emission tomography (PET). More recently, the combination of PET and computed tomography (CT) also has opened the way for physicians and clinicians to detect various types of cancers and greatly influencing treatment protocol for patients.

Combined, PET and PET-CT revenues reached $481.2 million last year, according to Frost & Sullivan (San Jose, Calif.). In a study released in April, the market research firm calculated that the PET market has achieved an annual growth rate of 55 percent, with PET-CT garnering 45 percent of the overall PET market in 2002.

In fact, with the dramatic rise in PET-CT sales over the last two years, the study speculated that PET-CT system sales could surpass standalone PET units within one to two years. Total market revenues could reach $1.65 billion in 2009.

The report cited “the superior ability of PET-CT to detect a number of cancers” and the integrated technologies’ use in conjunction with radiation therapy planning.

As for the future, the study noted that the growing interest in molecular imaging and the possibilities of someday employing the technology in combination with genomics could help maintain PET-CT’s market and clinical momentum.

SNM 2003 Fact Sheet

When: June 21-June 25
Where: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center New Orleans, Louisiana
Who: More than 3,600 physicians, scientists, physicists, pharmacists and technologists
Exhibit Hours:     June 22
June 23
June 24
10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Categorical Seminars: June 21 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Special Events:
House of Delegates meeting June 21 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Welcome reception June 21 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
50th annual meeting gala June 21 8:00 p.m. – midnight
2003 Nuclear medicine board review June 21
June 22
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Anniversary plenary with awards and membership meeting June 23 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Annual meeting highlights June 25 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m

Medicare reimbursement for PET imaging also has spurred nuclear medicine’s renaissance over the last four years, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded its coverage to more oncology indications.

In March, the CMS announced its intention to add revascularization to the list of PET imaging procedures that are reimbursed by Medicare.

CMS indicated that it would issue a national coverage to designate PET imaging as a primary or initial diagnostic study for determining myocardial viability in patients with ischemic heart disease. Myocardial viability refers to the ability of a patient’s myocardium to respond to bypass surgery or angioplasty and reverse left ventricular dysfunction.

Patients with ischemic heart disease — a condition resulting from obstruction of the coronary arteries, and left ventricular dysfunction when the left side of the heart fails to pump an adequate supply of blood out to the body — are at risk for increased morbidity and mortality.

PET would allow physicians to perform myocardial metabolic imaging studies in order to optimize the selection of patients for revascularization surgery to restore an adequate blood supply.

To complement SNM 2003’s categorical seminars, continuing education courses, and scientific papers and posters, nuclear medicine vendors will fill the exhibit hall with new technologies.

GE Medical Systems (GEMS of Waukesha, Wis.) will debut its Infinia, which the company describes as a “free-geometry nuclear medicine system” with a slip-ring gantry. Infinia combines the flexibility of a single-head gamma camera with the productivity of a dual-head design. It delivers unprecedented image quality across the full energy spectrum. Unique in the industry, Infinia arrives ready for GE Medical Systems’ exclusive Hawkeye SPECT/CT, offering the utmost in diagnostic confidence.

GEMS also will introduce its new Xeleris workstation, which works with the Infinia system. With the Xeleris workstation, GE Medical Systems enables a nuclear medicine department’s imaging systems to connect to a single workstation for processing — a concept long overdue on nuclear medicine. Xeleris’ features include lightning-fast processing and single-touch operations, along customizable programming tools and seamless connectivity to existing GE Medical functional imaging equipment, non-GE devices, and PACS.

Philips Medical Systems (Andover, Mass.) will lead with the Gemini open PET-CT system. The open configuration is designed for greater patient comfort and access. Also, because the system’s Allegro PET system and Mx8000 CT scanner gantries separate, Gemini can be used for PET-only or CT-only imaging. Philips recently completed its first Gemini installation at a clinical facility in New York, with plans to begin clinical imaging by the mid-second quarter. Commercial release of the Gemini is anticipated for late in the second quarter.

Philips also will show advances in its Syntegra automated volume registration fusion software. Syntegra is used with Gemini as a standard multi-modality image fusion and diagnostic tool and is available as an option for Allegro and CPET Plus scanners. Syntegra is designed closely with Philips’ Pinnacle 3D radiation therapy planning system, enabling the two systems to communicate seamlessly and share information when PET is used in simulation and planning for radiation therapy.

With a heavy emphasis on oncology imaging workflow and its integration with radiation oncology, Philips also plans to demonstrate advances in its Pinnacle workstation.

Philips’ Skylight, the company’s gantry-less gamma camera, will display its new software that allows for the imaging of two patients simultaneously. DualPlanar Imaging is scheduled to go to the commercial market in August or September. This new software also offers specific tools aimed at the molecular imaging market.

Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc.’s (Malvern, Pa.) biograph Sensation 16 PET-CT system will make its SNM debut, as the company combines its 16-slice Somatom CT scanner with its ECAT Accel PET system. The company says the system can complete whole-body oncology scans in seven to 15 minutes, while complete cardiac exams may be completed in approximately 20 minutes, including FDG viability and full diagnostic coronary angiography to identify coronary occlusions.

Siemens also plans to show its Signature series for nuclear cardiology. The Signature features a patient entertainment and comfort system, which provides onboard interactive multimedia capability, as well as advanced syngo-based e.soft software for fully automated processing, archiving and data management, and viewing multimodality images on a single workstation.

e.soft express is Siemens’ new cardiac review software that allows reading of nuclear cardiology cases on a desktop, laptop, or even a tablet PC. e.soft express includes a choice of cardiac quantification software, including Cedars Sinai Cardiac Suite, Emory Cardiac Toolbox, and 4D-MSPECT.