New technology that combines positron tomography with x-ray computed tomography (PET/CT) is available from all major vendors of PET imaging equipment: CTI, Siemens, GE, Philips. Although not all vendors have made the same design choices as those described in this review all have in common that their high performance design places a commercial CT scanner in tandem with a commercial PET scanner. The level of physical integration is actually less than that of the original prototype design where the CT and PET components were mounted on the same rotating support. There will undoubtedly be a demand for PET/CT technology with a greater level of integration, and at a reduced cost. This may be achieved through the design of a scanner specifically for combined anatomical and functional imaging, rather than a design combining separate CT and PET scanners, as in the current approaches. By avoiding the duplication of data acquisition and image reconstruction functions, for example, a more integrated design should also allow cost savings over current commercial PET/CT scanners. The goal is then to design and build a device specifically for imaging the function and anatomy of cancer in the most optimal and effective way, without conceptualizing it as combined PET and CT. The development of devices specifically for imaging a particular disease (eg, cancer) differs from the conventional approach of, for example, an all-purpose anatomical imaging device such as a CT scanner. This new concept targets more of a disease management approach rather than the usual division into the medical specialties of radiology (anatomical imaging) and nuclear medicine (functional imaging).
Copyright 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.