Cancer. The very word conjures up visions of pain and suffering. If any disease has made itself an enemy of man, it is this one. Cancer may come in many forms but its outcome has always been damaging. The medical fraternity counts cancer as its greatest foe.

Dr. Meenu Gupta


An exciting era in medical imaging has started with the introduction of PET  CT (Positron Emission Tomography- Computerised Tomography). This is state of the art machine combines advanced metabolic imaging with high resolution rapid anatomic imaging. Time Magazine honored PET CT as the Medical Science invention of the Year in 2000, noting that the PET CT scanner has provided medicine with a powerful new diagnostic tool.

PET has been widely accepted by Oncologists world wide in the diagnosis of malignant tumours, looking for spread of already diagnosed tumours, identifying tumour recurrence after treatment and monitoring response to chemotherapy and radiation. All these can be done in a matter or 20 25 minutes non invasively with maximum patient comfort.
The First PET-CT scan in India:
The Apollo hospitals have once again been the pioneer in bringing this technology to our country. Apollo Hospitals Hyderabad has the latest 16 slice Pet CT Scanner - Biograph 16 from Siemens. It is the only PET-CT Centre in South East Asia which has the onsite Cyclotron from CTI. This facility was inaugurated on the 26th March 2005 and since then; Apollo Gleneagles PET CT centre in Hyderabad has handled over 9000 PET-CT patients and over 5000 CT Angiogram patients. A number of Patients have already come back for follow up scans.
Located in the picturesque and sprawling campus of Apollo Hospitals, it is an International centre with faculty who have been trained in PET Imaging in the United States of America and also worked there. The PET-CT centre has 20,000 sft of space which houses the Cyclotron and the PET-CT Scanner. There are 9 luxurious suites which can accommodate outstation clientele. The centre offers complimentary pick up and drop to the airport or railway station, city tour can also be organized for the attendants who accompany the patients.
The Chairman of Apollo Hospitals Group, Padma Bhushan Dr P. C Reddy, the visionary who brought this new technology to India rightly said that this is the most beautiful PET Scan centre in the world.
The role of PET-CT in Cancer:
It helps an oncologist get information regarding cancer earlier than with CT or MRI because it identifies tumour at the cellular level. This makes a large difference in patient management. For Example if a patient is found to have distant spread of cancer using PET, he can avoid unnecessary surgery. Conversely, PET can downstage a patient- a cancer patient may have enlarge lymph nodes or suspicious lesions on CT / MRI which on PET are shown to have no tumour. A patient can then have more aggressive curative surgery.
The role of PET-CT in cardiology:
In Cardiology, PET is considered the gold standard in identifying viable myocardium. Blood supply to the cardiac tissue can be studied using radioisotopes such as N13 ammonia. This will guide cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons plan revascularization procedures such as angioplasty/ stenting or bypass surgery. Such procedures are useful only if cardiac tissue is viable.
The role of PET-CT in Neurology:
In Neurology, PET can be used to detect tumour recurrence after surgery and radiation of brain tumor. The origin of seizure can be identified in patients who do not respond to medication. Once the seizure focus is found, it can be surgically resected. PET is also useful is diagnosis in cases of patients with dementias, who present with memory loss or behavioral problems.
How does combining PET and CT in one machine help?
PET does not always localize lesion precisely as it is more functional so fusing images with CT images will give the exact location and size of an abnormality. Images performed in one sitting will help fusing date accurately. A practical application is the help it provides radiation oncologist to plan therapy. A fused image of PET and Ct will help show of a tumor mass has active cancer. The abnormal cancer tissue alone can then be radiated to normal tissue can be provided.
Doctors and patients should use this great technology to the maximum, as it will lead to better patient care and management.