Medical Imaging Innovations – Patient Benefits In Oncology, Neurology and Cardiology

2010-10-21
 

medical imaging innovation

An article on HealthImaging.com serves as a reminder that the medical imaging field is alive and well with promising new technologies and procedures.  Every new discovery in molecular biology seems to be followed by scientists and doctors figuring out how to image something that’s never been imaged before.  Some of the key points discussed in the article linked above include:

Oncology

Locating a tumor is easy compared to figuring out how a tumor is responding to treatment. Scientists have had a lot of success using FDG, a derivative of glucose, as a tracer that shows up on PET and CT scans. FDG, which was originally developed for brain research, binds to the receptor sites where anti-cancer drugs are supposed to bind.  More FDG binding means that more anti-cancer treatment is needed.

Scientists are also trying to develop ever-more sophisticated tracers to image pre-treatment tumors.  The more that is known about a tumor before treatment, the more likely the right medication or other treatment will be used.

Neurology

Imaging innovations in neurology are generally targeted at the most common (and devastating) ailments: dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

SPECT technology has developed as knowledge of neurological ailments has increased.  It’s now known, for example, that Parkinson’s disease is accompanied by higher levels of dopamine in the brain, so tracers that respond to dopamine can, via a SPECT scan, confirm the presence of the disease.

Likewise, Alzheimer’s disease leads to greater neurological amyloid protein levels. PET scans are getting better at imaging tracers which bind to such proteins, promising to push Alzheimer’s detection to earlier and earlier stages of the disease, which may in turn open the door for treatments that stop the disease in its early tracks.

Cardiology

PET/CT scans are a non-invasive way to determine the extent of coronary artery disease before treatment, but only recently have begun to supplant SPECT scans. They now can be used to measure myocardial perfusion and metabolism.  Scientists are also trying to develop low radiation tracers like FDG for use in cardiological scans.

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