SPECT-CT scanner a world first
4 November 2005
NSW Health Minister John Hatzistergos has launched one of the world’s first combined SPECT-CT machines, developed by physicists, medical specialists and engineers at Royal North Shore Hospital.
The nuclear medicine team spent two years designing and building a diagnostic quality combined SPECT/CT scanner at a total cost of $550,000, less than half the price of some purpose built machines in the United States.
Associate Professors Paul Roach and Dale Bailey combined a $500,000 nuclear medicine gamma camera used in single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans with a $50,000 second-hand current generation Computed Tomography (CT) scanner.
“In a single imaging session patients can have their functional (nuclear medicine) scan with their anatomical (radiology) examination,” says Professor Roach, from the Northern Clinical School of Medicine and director of nuclear medicine at RNSH.
Professor Bailey, considered the “scientific brains” behind the project, is principal physicist in the department of nuclear medicine at RNSH, a physics lecturer in the School of Medical Radiation Sciences and clinical Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Sydney.
“Our approach to combine the scanners in a novel, space-efficient modular design is particularly suited to the practice of imaging in Australia,” Professor Roach says. “It is cost-effective and we anticipate numerous practices around Australia will follow suit.”
Dual purpose machines manufactured in the US for between $1.5 and $2 million are being trialled in a few US and European hospitals, but Professor Roach says they are prohibitively expensive for most Australian hospitals.
Grants from the University of Sydney Institute of Medical Physics and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research helped to fund the project.