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District unveils first full body scanner in Australia

New scanner to revolutionise patient care.

Patient sitting in a chair talking to a doctor

Sydney Local Health District is home to Australia's first full body scanner, which is set to revolutionise patient care, providing clearer images, at a lower radiation dose and in about a quarter of the time.

The $12 million Biograph Vision Quadra PET (positron emission tomography) CT (computed tomography) scanner is the second of its kind in the world.

The NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard officially unveiled the scanner at RPA's world-leading Molecular Imaging Department this week.

Mr Hazzard was joined by the District's Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson, RPA's General Manager Nobby Alcala, the District's Clinical Director of Medical Imaging Professor Michael Fulham and Siemens Healthineers' Global Head of Sales for Molecular Imaging Tim Lagana.

The PET component scanner is 106 centimetres in length and is able to scan a patient from the top of the head to the upper thighs simultaneously, a feat which has not previously been possible, Professor Fulham said.

"Clinicians will be able to see in real time what is happening in a patient's brain, heart, liver and other organs in the abdomen and pelvis simultaneously, rather than requiring sequential scans of the body.

"This technology will be invaluable in treating patients with cancer and neurological conditions including brain tumours, epilepsy and dementia and offers new opportunities in assessing heart disease.

"It'll give us a better understanding why tumours in different parts of the body respond differently to treatment, how drugs are distributed and interact with different organs and how, for the first time, we can accurately measure these processes," he said.

Associate Professor Brian McCaughan AM, a retired cardiothoracic surgeon who has an inflammatory connective tissue disorder, was the first patient to use the new machine.

"This one I'm assured is 10 times better at accurately identifying disease down to two or three millimetres in diameter and that's mind-blowing.

"I'm looking forward to getting some answers about the nature of my disease, the extent of it and what treatment I can have," he said.

Minister Hazzard said the introduction of the cutting edge technology would not only improve patient care but result in advances in research.

"I want to congratulate the whole of the Sydney Local Health District team – particularly Professor Michael Fulham and his team in the Medical Imaging Department.

"RPA has always been at the forefront of providing world-class patient care and this new technology will ensure it continues to be a national leader."

The District's Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson said one of RPA's greatest strengths is its investment in technology that leads to better health care outcomes for patients. "Technology can change the way we do things. We have been able to demonstrate at RPA and Sydney Local Health District that we have long term partnerships, such as with Siemens Healthineers, that can make real change," she said.

The Biograph Vision Quadra was engineered and manufactured by Siemens Healthineers in the United States – a partnership that the District (and its predecessors) began more than 25 years ago.

"We're excited that this brings the latest technology to Sydney Local Health District and the people of NSW," said Tim Lagana, Global Head of Sales for Molecular Imaging at Siemens Healthineers.

Australia's first PET scanner was introduced at RPA in 1992 and since then the hospital has been a pioneer in the introduction of PET-CT technology into routine clinical care.

In 2019, RPA's Molecular Imaging Department marked the 100,000th PET patient scan. In 2020, the Department scanned more than 7550 patients.