The National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) took a step toward “precision medicine,” with the introduction of hybrid imaging technology that would transform Taiwan’s diagnostic radiology, the nation’s leading hospital said yesterday.
“Precision medicine” is used to describe disease diagnosis at the molecular level, which could drastically improve patient health.
The hospital yesterday held a launch ceremony for the country’s first center with the Biograph mMR system, a cutting-edge device that allows a simultaneous positron emission tomography (PET) scan with a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
PET uses a radioactive substance, injected into the patient’s bloodstream, to see how the organs and tissues are functioning, and has been widely used clinically, including for cancer detection and staging, and in the evaluation of brain diseases. MRI uses magnetism and radio waves to produce high-resolution images of body structures, without involving radiation.
The integration of the two in the Biograph mMR system was “made possible by overcoming the limitation of PET not being able to function in intense MRI magnetic fields,” hospital radiology department director Tiffany Shih (施庭芳) said.
“The new system allows physicians to simultaneously collect two different kinds of information and run two tests at the same time,” she said. “By combining the two, not only can the location of primary tumors be more accurately determined, but we can also evaluate whether an invasion of adjacent healthy tissues has taken place.”
“Simultaneous data collection can help physicians compare the resulting images more easily and obtain more accurate information for diagnosis and treatment,” Shih added.
The director said the new technology significantly lowers the radiation dose needed for imaging.
“With the PET-MRI device, the radiation dose is reduced to one-third the previous amount required for the same imaging outcome,” she said. “The dose is only slightly higher than the background amount, or about the amount that a person would be exposed to in a return flight between Taiwan and the US.”
The system is a “one-stop shop,” operating through what Shih described as a “one scan for all,” which provides accurate anatomical, functional, molecular and metabolic information in one sitting.