Pictured above – Nuclear medicine tech/CT tech Madison Eades, right and Scott McKoin, nuclear medicine supervisor, work with a patient in the new Cartesion Prime PET/CT scanner.

The updated technology will allow patients to be scanned in less time, increase their comfort, deliver a lower dose of radiation

Cookeville  A state-of-the-art upgrade to the nuclear imaging program is now fully installed at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, adding another state-of-the-art tool to aid in early detection of cancer. The Canon Cartesion Prime PET/CT scanner replaces the 16-year-old analog PET/CT modality.

The updated technology will allow patients to be scanned in less time, increase their comfort, deliver a lower dose of radiation for increased patient safety and obtain higher quality images to improve diagnostic confidence.

“This is the only fully digital, fixed site, state-of-the-art PET/CT scanner outside of major medical centers in Knoxville, Chattanooga or Nashville,” said Amanda Bain, imaging director at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. “Installing this latest generation of scanner is an exciting offering for our community and allows our patients to receive the very best care without having to travel out of town.”

The purchase was approved in Nov. 2021 and utilizes the newest technology, such as fully digital detectors with “time of flight” resolution that will increase the basic physics of the operation of the scanner. Artificial intelligence and deep learning for image reconstruction will greatly improve image resolution.

“The difference is night and day,” said Scott McKoin, nuclear medicine supervisor said. “It can pick up things as small as a size of a BB gun pellet.”

McKoin has been in nuclear medicine for more than 30 years, with 23 of those at Cookeville Regional. Nuclear medicine also plays a large role in cardiac imaging.

“The entire nuclear medicine team strives to bring the latest advances in all types of functional nuclear medicine cardiac imaging while delivering excellent patient care,” McKoin said.

In addition to cardiac imaging, this technology will add to the current modalities to detect many types of cancers using flurodeoxyglucosite (FDG), a modality used for cancer imaging of the lung, breast, melanoma, renal, head and neck, among others.

Cookeville Regional will also be able to progress in PET/CT imaging with the newest radiopharmaceuticals for neuroendocrine tumors, prostate cancer recurrence and eventually cardiac perfusion imaging (absolute myocardial blood flow and coronary flow reserve) and imaging for infection or fever of unknown origin.

“In addition to the PET scan capabilities, this new machine adds to our CT modalities,” said Dr. Donald Huff, radiologist at Cookeville Regional. “It is incredible to see the improved image quality in this newest generation scanner. It’s also less radiation dose to our patient and improves the workflow for our techs.”

When it comes to patient comfort, the Cartesion Prime is designed to address many aspects of the patient experience that focuses on comfort during the scan process. It has a wide patient couch that creates a more open and comfortable environment. It also has a low minimum scanner bed height patients will be able to navigate more easily and safely getting on and off the scanner bed when assistance is needed.

“These advancements will provide our patients and physicians here in the Upper Cumberland region with truly state-of-the-art diagnostic molecular imaging,” Bain said.

An open house celebration will be held Tuesday, April 11, from 3:30 p.m to 6 p.m. and the public is invited. Enter through the North Patient Tower.

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