New York: The world's first medical imaging scanner that can capture a 3D picture of the entire human body at once in as little as 20-30 seconds has produced its first scans, say scientists, noting that the technology can aid in improving diagnostics to tracking disease progression to researching new drug therapies.
Called EXPLORER, the scanner combines positron emission tomography (PET) and x-ray computed tomography (CT) and can produce image up to 40 times faster.
The machine also captures radiation far more efficiently than other scanners.
"The level of detail was astonishing... We could see features that you just don't see on regular PET scans. And the dynamic sequence showing the radiotracer moving around the body in three dimensions over time was, frankly, mind-blowing," said Ramsey Badawi, chief of Nuclear Medicine at at the University of California - Davis, in the US.
"There is no other device that can obtain data like this in humans, so this is truly novel," he said.
The first images from scans of humans using the new device will be shown at the upcoming Radiological Society of North America meeting in Chicago.
Badawi along with Simon Cherry, Professor from UC Davis, first conceptualised the total-body scanner 13 years ago.
According to Cherry, EXPLORER will have a profound impact on clinical research and patient care because for the first time, an imaging scanner will be able to evaluate what is happening in all the organs and tissues of the body simultaneously.
"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," Cherry noted.
The machine can also quantitatively measure blood flow or how the body takes up glucose everywhere in the body.
Researchers envision using the scanner to study cancer that has spread beyond a single tumor site, inflammation, infection, immunological or metabolic disorders and many other diseases.