Baptist Hospital installs new PET/CT unit

A powerful new diagnostic imaging tool at Baptist Hospital in Beaumont combines the strengths of two well-established imaging systems into one to more accurately diagnose and locate cancers.
A new PET/CT unit was installed at Baptist Hospital in March 2017, and the first patient was scanned April 5. Since then, 142 patients have been scanned, according to Dr. Ernest Hymel of the Cancer Center of Southeast Texas. The Cancer Center of Southeast Texas, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas and Altus Cancer Center are part of the recently formed Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Regional Cancer Network.
“PET/CT is a technology that combines CT scans with PET imaging,” Hymel said. “PET imaging tells us about activity in the body. Activity can be lots of things, but in this case what we’re looking for is activity associated with cancer. By combining those two, we get a lot of detailed information about where cancer is located inside somebody’s body. I think what’s new and unique about the device at Baptist is that it’s the only dedicated unit here in Southeast Texas.”
The scan takes only 12-15 minutes after the injection process, according to Hymel. PET/CT scanning begins approximately 45 minutes after the injection.
The PET/CT scan procedure involves the injection of a glucose tracer, which journeys through the body and collects in cells with increased metabolism.
All cells use glucose; however, diseased cells, such as cancerous cells, use it faster than healthy cells. The PET/CT scanner produces images of the diseased tissues that have absorbed the glucose tracer. The CT component of the scan better visualizes and localizes organs to identify cancerous cells.
“This is much improved compared to previous scan times of one hour, plus the injection time,” Hymel said.
Hymel said other PET/CT units like Baptist’s GE Discovery MI DR are only available on a part-time basis and are shipped in temporarily from out of town on trailers once a week for tests, rather than permanently stationed at any of the hospitals in the area.
“(Baptist’s) is in-house and running 24/7,” Hymel said. “The real advantage that that gives is because they can do that test five days a week basically, then you can get scheduled in much more quickly, generally speaking, than most of the other places where you’ve got to wait for that one day a week for the unit to show up.”
PET/CT imaging can be used to detect many forms of cancer including lung, colorectal, melanoma, ovarian, lymphoma and recurrent brain cancer. It can also be used to assess heart disease and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of epilepsy.

Photo by Kevin King - A new PET/CT unit was installed at Baptist Hospital in March 2017. The GE Discovery MI DR combines the strengths of two well-established imaging systems into one to more accurately diagnose and locate cancers.
 

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