tech2 News StaffNov 24, 2018 16:49:17 IST
A little over a decade ago, a pair of researchers at the University of California-Davis had an idea for a machine that could scan the whole body from top to toe in one shot. The scan would produce a 3D image that could help doctors and medical experts diagnose disorders and develop new treatments faster and better.
This fantasy of a scanner is now a reality, and the first images it has produced are far more real than the researchers ever expected them to be.
The EXPLORER is a scanner that uses a combination of two imaging techniques used today – Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) – to look at the entire body’s organs and tissues in one go.
The single biggest advantage of such a scan would be the ability to have multiple areas of the body imaged in one sitting. But that’s not all the EXPLORER can do – it is also really, really fast.
While the average CT scan can take between 10 and 20 minutes to produce an image, this machine can take a full body scan in just 30 seconds. The researchers also claim it is far safer, and needs a much smaller radiation dose than a PET scan alone.
What’s more, EXPLORER can also produce movies of the body in motion, capable of tracking blood vessels or even drugs that are making their way through the body.
“While I had imagined what the images would look like for years, nothing prepared me for the incredible detail we could see on that first scan,” Simon Cherry, one of the device's engineers told university press.
“There is no other device that can obtain data like this in humans, so this is truly novel,” Ramsey Badawi, the second researcher added.
The duo don't think it will be very long before the EXPLORER is put to use in hospitals and medical centres around the world.
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