Siemens Healthcare provides a wide range of molecular imaging solutions, such as the new Biograph™ mCT positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) system, the Symbia™ family of single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)/CT systems, the Biograph mMR™ PET/MR system, and a host of preclinical and biomarker solutions. Are these simply innovations in engineering or are they, more importantly, helping physicians deliver high-quality patient care at lower costs?
Biograph mCT (PET/CT)
With the Biograph mCT, offering advanced CT and PET imaging with one room, one team, one integrated system, one schedule, and, if required, one comprehensive exam, clinics can save precious space, time, and cost while maximizing dual-modality utilization and enabling business growth. “Some of our smaller hospitals use it as a shared service. It is especially important that people are able to utilize this imaging equipment for a significant portion of the day to get complete reimbursement. We sell it as a shared service that can do PET and CT, either individually or as a hybrid image,” said Robert Brait, PET/CT product manager, Siemens Healthcare.
The Biograph mCT PET?CT system is a scalable platform designed to grow as business and clinical needs change. Biograph mCT offers a variety of in-field upgrades, from increasing the number of CT slices up to 128 to expanding the PET field of view up to 21.6 cm, the largest field of view in the PET?CT market. “The advantage of that particular feature is that with a larger field, you are able to do much faster scanning and it allows you to decrease the amount of biomarker you use because of the greater count rate,” said Brait.
Other clinically important features of the Biograph mCT include its Quanti?QC, which ensures day-to-day consistency in the system’s response and quantitative reproducibility by automatically performing daily system calibration and normalization.
“We call this Quantification Redefined. We have recognized, and so has the medical community, that greater importance needs to be placed on quantification. So we now designed our systems to make sure we have more accurate quantification and the software has been developed so that it can be acquired and measured by the computer automatically which increases production or workflow time for the technologists and also provides a more consistent approach in quantifying the information,” said Brait.
The most recent iteration of the Biograph mCT, with the quantification emphasis, was first shown publicly at RSNA last year and received FDA approval in February 2012. With its unique combination of daily calibration and precise anatomical and functional co-registration, Biograph mCT can help increase diagnostic confidence in dementia diagnosis. This was showcased earlier this year at the annual SNM meeting held in Miami.
Biograph mMR (PET/MR)
Applying the same principle, the Biograph mMR (PET/MR) system reflects a hybrid approach in creating a molecular MR (mMR) system, where the PET and MR are acquired simultaneously. Biograph mMR is the only device that can acquire PET and MR images simultaneously and incorporates the first MR-friendly PET detectors. Siemens’ unique mMR PET detector architecture includes integrated cooling features to ensure optimal PET performance, as well as specialized shielding to virtually eliminate magnetic field interference in the PET data processing chain.
“When you think about this, to be able to track a photon in a magnetic field and make sure that it is placed right to create an accurate anatomical and physiological image is pretty impressive in itself,” said Brait. “We also increased the size of the PET field of view. Now, with mMR, there is a PET field of view of 25.2, which is the largest in the PET industry, including PET/CT and PET/MR.”
The system is designed to be used as either a separate PET or MR system, or as a hybrid scanner. The same size as a typical MR scanner, the Biograph mMR system requires an installation space similar to that of a conventional 3T MRI system. The ability to perform MR and PET with a single scanner virtually eliminates the siting and operational costs of a second system, while offering the potential for shorter exams and more patients per day. A greater adoption of this expensive hybrid scanner will depend on reimbursement and the availability of biomarkers that illustrate the physiological processes that physicians are interested in.
Symbia T SPECT?CT
The Symbia T SPECT?CT system, with its IQ?SPECT technology, enables routine scans using half the dose and double the speed. Additionally, Symbia reduces steps with effortless collimator change, a fully automatic gantry, and detector reconfiguration. “An automated collimator feature as well as an automated quality control feature are part of its productivity package. Robotically removing and replacing the collimator saves the technologists time and room, eliminating the need for heavy carts,” said Brait. Additionally, the quality control feature allows technologists to schedule a time in which the system will automatically calibrate itself, saving valuable clinical time. “With this productivity feature, you’re able to schedule it for 4 am, so that when the technologist arrives in the morning, it’s already ready to go and has its quality control completed. All of this leads to greater productivity throughout the week”
According to the company, Siemens has a rather complete molecular imaging portfolio in that they create the cyclotrons that create the radioactive material, are able to label them to different biomarkers, have preclinical imagers that image animals, and have a range of patient clinical scanners that image patients. How does this give Siemens an advantage in the clinical field of molecular medicine and molecular imaging? “It is not only that we can create the features. We get not only a return on investment for our customers, but there is also a return on innovation because we apply the same engineering mindset of how to create a device and allow it to be expanded to the customers’ needs,” said Brait.