The scanner has been developed by a team at the University of California Davis. It is the first medical scanner that can render a tridimensional image of the entire body at the same time.
In order to work the machine combines two methods of imaging: the well-known X-ray computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET).
The unprecedented level of detail that is offered by the scanner surprised even some of the researchers that worked on the project as they didn’t expect that it will perform so well
Named Explorer, the device is able to deliver a complete scan of the body in less than 30 seconds. Doctors will be able to accurately follow the evolution of the disease as time passes (tracking how cancer spreads through the body, for example.). Doctors will also be able to observe how all the organs work at the same time and trace a particular detail, for example, the way in which blood flows in a designated part of the body.
The researchers also shared some information about the development process during a press conference. The initial idea for a full-body scanner surfaced 13 years ago. After showcasing an advanced concept, the researchers received a $1.5 million grant back in 2011, allowing them to start the development process.
The Explorer could dramatically change the way in which patients are treated while also facilitating future research at the same time. It is estimated that the Explorer is up to 40 times faster in comparison to a PET scan. The amount of radiation emitted is also considerably lower, allowing researchers to repeat the scans more often without harming them in the long run. This is particularly important when the patient is a child, as their radiation threshold is considerably lower.
The first scanner will soon become available in Sacramento. If everything goes well mass production should start in 2019.
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