European premier for combined single photon emission CT and diagnostic
CT at Erlangen Hospital
15 April 2005
The Nuclear Medicine Clinic and the Radiological Institute at Erlangen
University Hospital have begun using Europe’s first combined system for
SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) and diagnostic Computed
Tomography from Siemens Medical Solutions, the Symbia TruePoint SPECT•CT.
Erlangen University Hospital is one of only two institutes worldwide to
clinically implement this new SPECT•CT procedure. This opens new
opportunities for physicians in detecting tumours and cardiac diseases:
diagnosis with the new system is earlier, more precise, and more reliable.
This in turn significantly improves the patient’s chance of being cured.
Symbia is the first to combine the functional sensitivity of a SPECT
system with the detailed anatomical information provided by diagnostic
multi-slice CT systems. SPECT, the nuclear medicine imaging procedure,
enables organ function, cell metabolism, and other functional parameters in
the human body to be displayed. Metabolic processes are displayed using
different radioactive substances given to the patient in extremely small
doses. As a result, pathological changes can be detected at the molecular
level before changes in the anatomical structure at the submillimeter level
are visible with CT. Due to the high specificity of the radioactive test
substances used however, the detailed anatomical information that is also
required is limited, and precise localization of the diagnostic findings is
often difficult. Nuclear medicine examinations are function oriented, as
opposed to structure-oriented procedures such as computed tomography.
Combining nuclear medicine technology with a Spiral CT brings together the
advantages of both procedures and significantly increases the diagnostic
precision of SPECT. After the examination, the CT slice images are
superimposed on the SPECT images, enabling the physician to detect the
location of diseases in the body with submillimeter precision.
This new technology will be used at Erlangen University Hospital in
particular for diagnosing tumors and cardiac diseases. For example,
additional metastases will be detected in patients with thyroid cancer using
the highly-sensitive SPECT procedure. If the tumour has spread, CT images
generated with the hybrid system can be used to localize the metastases in
the body. After the examination with SPECT•CT, the physician can determine
whether treatment should continue depending on the results. When searching
for bone metastases, the combination of a skeletal scintigram and CT
increases diagnostic precision. For the patient, this also reduces the
period of uncertainty waiting for a definitive diagnosis. After a heart
attack, the system enables fast and precise determination of the location
and degree of damage to the heart muscle due to insufficient blood supply.
Improved therapy planning optimized for each individual patient reduces
unnecessary operations and lowers risk when surgery is required. “Today,
nuclear medicine is the most powerful molecular imaging technique for
non-invasive metabolic examination of the patient. The combination with
diagnostic CT significantly improves all aspects of SPECT imaging. In
particular, it compensates for SPECT’s limited spatial resolution
capabilities,” according to Professor Torsten Kuwert, Director of the
Nuclear Medicine Clinic at Erlangen University Hospital.
In Cardiology, TruePoint SPECT•CT offers valuable information regarding
cardiac function and blood circulation. The new technology uses diagnostic
multi-slice CT to calculate the attenuation correction and provides a
precise display of attenuation data, which is reflected in increased
specificity and more reliable findings when diagnosing cardiac blood
“The introduction of TruePoint SPECT•CT and the Symbia product family
underscores Siemens deep commitment to developing modern technology as an
answer to the clinical requirements of our partners,” said Dr. Erich R.
Reinhardt, CEO of Siemens Medical Solutions. “TruePoint SPECT•CT meets the
current and future expectations of nuclear medicine because it maximizes the
information at the molecular level in combination with precise anatomical
details. With this new technology, our customers, physicians, can precisely
localize metastases in their patients’ bodies and analyze them in terms of
size, type, and degree.”
Symbia — TruePoint SPECT•CT
TruePoint SPECT•CT integrates the latest e.cam SPECT technology with the
Somatom Emotion Computed Tomography System. In a single examination, this
innovative imaging procedure quickly acquires precise diagnostic information
at the molecular and anatomical levels, which physicians can use to discover
changes in cell activity long before they are visible as structural changes.
TruePoint SPECT•CT can be used to determine the exact position, size, type,
and degree of diseases.
Physicians can use the Symbia platform with TruePoint SPECT•CT technology
to perform three separate types of examination: SPECT, multi-slice CT, and
SPECT•CT, all from a single system. Thanks to its small footprint, Symbia
easily integrates into a variety of clinical environments. Symbia offers
various multi-slice CT configurations, with rotation speeds of up to 0.6
seconds per rotation. This produces high-quality CT scans in just a few
seconds. As a result, physicians can produce functionally exact and
anatomically precise SPECT•CT studies significantly faster than with any
other system on the market.
Diagnostic nuclear medicine
Diagnostic nuclear medicine displays the distribution of weak radioactive
materials in humans that have been injected in low quantities. In addition
to SPECT mentioned above, it is also used for PET ( Positron Emissions
Tomography ). The latter has established itself in combination with a slice
image procedure, which is known as PET/CT ( Positron Emissions Tomography
Computed Tomography ), and now offers the new technology of SPECT•CT (
Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography — Computed Tomography ).
Nuclear medicine enables physiological and biochemical processes and
their pathological changes to be localised and examined in a non-invasive
manner. In contrast to other imaging procedures, nuclear medicine
examinations are function oriented. As a result, metabolic processes can be
examined using various radioactive substances with short half-lives, and
displayed in functional images. The substances accumulate in different types
of tissue depending on their pharmacological characteristics. During decay,
the substances emit gamma radiation, which behaves similarly to X-radiation.
As a result for example, tumours can be visualized in very early stages. Or,
after a heart attack, it enables fast and precise determination of the
location and degree of damage to the heart muscle due to insufficient blood