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RPA celebrates  100,000 PET scans with two new scanners set to further improve disease diagnosis and treatment

100,000 PET scan milestone for RPA

July 2019

RPA celebrates 100,000 PET scans with two new scanners set to further improve disease diagnosis and treatment

RPA celebrates  100,000 PET scans with two new scanners set to further improve disease diagnosis and treatment

Sydney architect Peter Nemes was the focus of a significant milestone at RPA.

Mr Nemes, 69, was the 100 000th patient to have a PET scan at RPA’s Molecular Imaging Department.

“I’m all for celebrations. I’m all for celebrating while we’re here. Absolutely,” he said.

Mr Nemes collapsed while attending a course at UTS about 18 months ago.

“There was no forewarning. No pain. Nothing. I managed to raise my arm and wave as I went down,” he said.

He was taken by ambulance to RPA where he was later diagnosed with a dissected aorta – a tear in the heart’s main blood vessel. He was in a coma for almost three weeks.

“The doctors warned my wife that I was not likely to survive. They were preparing to bury me. But luckily, everything gradually turned around and I’m here to tell the story,” Mr Nemes said.

He was back at RPA last week for a PET/CT scan to check on the progress of his recovery. “This wonderful machine is one of the ways to keep an eye on it,” he said.

The machine, a $3.6 million dollar Biograph Vision scanner, combines a PET (positron emission tomography) scanner and a CT (computed tomography) scanner in a single device.

RPA is the first hospital in Australia with this latest sophisticated multi-million dollar technology. A second scanner is due to be installed in August.

While the scanners are used mainly to treat cancer patients, they’re also used for patients with heart conditions – like Peter – as well as neurological disorders, epilepsy and a growing number of patients with dementia.

The scanners allow specialists to identify diseases earlier so that they can better tailor treatment to individual patients.

Clinical Director of Medical Imaging at Sydney Local Health District, Professor Michael Fulham, said the new machines can detect very small sites of disease and abnormalities that previously could not be seen.

“In cancer, for example, it helps to determine if the disease has spread and this is critical for determining the best treatment for cancer patients,” Professor Fulham said.

“We can also tell sooner if the drugs being used to treat the disease are working.”

The installation of the 5th generation machines will ensure RPA remains a world leader in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Professor Fulham said the machines allow scans to be personalised to the patient’s specific illness or condition.

“What we are doing fundamentally makes a difference to patients,” he said.

The machine’s technological advances also mean patients receive lower doses of radiation, scan times are faster and higher-resolution images are produced.

Professor Fulham said RPA was the earliest adopter of this type of medical technology.

“I am incredibly proud that we’ve made the milestone of 100,000 patient scans since we first started in 1992. We changed the way patients with cancer are managed at RPA and throughout the country,” Professor Fulham said.

Currently Professor Fulham’s team in RPA’s Molecular Imaging Department carry out more than 30 patient PET/CT scans every week day. Each scan can take up to 20 minutes.

The District’s chief executive Dr Teresa Anderson AM congratulated Professor Fulham and his hardworking staff.

“This is a significant milestone. Professor Fulham has a can-do approach and is driven to provide the best care for our patients,” she said.

“RPA will continue to build its medical imaging capacity, in line with technological advances, changing models of care and changing population demographics,” Dr Anderson said.

The Biograph Vision machine is manufactured by medical technology company Siemens Healthineers.

Tim Lagana, the company’s Business Manager for Molecular Imaging in Australia and New Zealand, said: “The Biograph Vision at RPA was the first of its kind installed in the southern hemisphere and is currently the only one in Australia.

“It offers the best technology available to assist the medical staff at RPA to offer a more personalised service for the people of NSW,” he said.

To view a video of the celebrations to mark the 100,000 PET patient scans, please click here.

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Page Last Updated: 27 May, 2020