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November 20, 2013

Purdue and InnerVision Advanced Medical Imaging bring advanced PET/CT scanning technology to area

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University is collaborating with InnerVision Advanced Medical Imaging to install a GE Healthcare PET/CT system at its facility for research and patient care.

The medical equipment has been delivered, installed and is now fully operational at InnerVision Advanced Medical Imaging, a Franciscan St. Elizabeth and Unity Healthcare partner, 3801 Amelia Ave., Suite A, Lafayette, Ind.

PET, or positron emission tomography, is a medical imaging technique that generates three-dimensional images of processes in the body. It can be used in conjunction with CT, or computed tomography, to aid in diagnosing cancer, cardiac and neurological diseases.

The new machine is the first of its kind in the greater Lafayette area. InnerVision's new PET/CT device is expected to scan up to 10 patients per day, with individual scan times of 25 minutes.

"It's an important instrument for us to have in the community for healthcare applications, particularly for oncology," said Dr. John Fiederlein, a Unity radiologist. "This is s a huge improvement for patients and physicians."

Purdue will use the machine for research, and InnerVision will use it for clinical care, providing a powerful diagnostic tool for patients in the area and making efficient use of the expensive technology.

"This partnership is really good for Purdue and InnerVision," said George Wodicka, a professor and head of Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. "Not only does it support our research, but it also really enhances the quality of healthcare in the community."

Researchers intend to use data from the CT scanning portion of the machine to improve a new imaging capability developed by Purdue, the University of Notre Dame and GE Healthcare. The capability, called model-based iterative reconstruction (MBIR), enables physicians to diagnose patients with high-clarity images at previously unattainable low-radiation dose levels. MBIR works by extracting specific information from large collections of data and reconstructing it into images like a jigsaw puzzle.

Using MBIR technology helps physicians manage CT dose so that patients are potentially exposed to less radiation than conventional CT scanners without MBIR.

"In practice, it allows you to scan at very low dosages and still get diagnostically useable images," said Charles Bouman, Purdue's Showalter Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and biomedical engineering. "If you can get diagnostically usable scans at such low dosages, this opens up the potential for new clinical applications because the dosage is so low."

GE Healthcare currently offers Veo, an image-reconstruction technology based on MBIR. The Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization, Notre Dame and GE Healthcare announced the commercial availability of Veo in 2011. Under GE Healthcare and Purdue's research agreement, GE has the license and right to commercialize Veo and the underlying MBIR technology.

The reduction of radiation exposure is due to increased efficiency achieved via models and algorithms in MBIR. The technology reduces "noise" in the data, providing greater clarity, Bouman said.

"It's like having night-vision goggles," he said. "They enable you to see in very low light, just as MBIR allows you to take high-quality CT scans with a low-power X-ray source."

Introducing the new PET/CT machine represents a continuation of the ongoing partnership with InnerVision, Wodicka said. 

"The expanded partnership between Purdue and InnerVision builds upon our very successful partnership in magnetic resonance imaging, located at InnerVision West at the Purdue Research Park," he said.

InnerVision West, a collaboration between Unity Healthcare and Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health, offers patients and physicians the only 3 tesla - or 3T - magnetic resonance imaging system in the area. The powerful MRI scanner provides better visualization of small structures. Through the public-private partnership, Purdue uses the 3T MRI system for research, while InnerVision West uses it in patient care.

Purdue's research relationship with GE has nurtured a history of internships for Purdue graduate students. The partnership helps Purdue recruit top undergraduate students and provides vital training for graduates in the job market.

"There is a lot of demand for people with this kind of training," said Steve Gray, president and CEO of MICT and Advantage Workstation for GE Healthcare. "It's a specialized set of skills."

GE benefits by expanding its technical expertise when engaging Purdue experts who can complement the CT development team and enable GE to investigate more and deliver faster.

Such collaborations may speed products and technologies to market, Gray said.

"Without research partners, it is harder to test new ideas and approaches to product development," he said.

Funding for the research came in part from the National Science Foundation and GE Healthcare.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu 

Sources:  Charles Bouman, 765-494-0340, Bouman@purdue.edu 

Steve Gray (PR Contact Michael Tetuan, 414-721-3006, Michael.Tetuan@ge.com)

Donna Penn, Radiology Business Consultant, InnerVision, 765-446-5225, DPenn@unityhc.com 

Related Website:

GE Healthcare