Staff at work

Nuclear Medicine, PET and Ultrasound, Westmead

Nuclear Medicine, PET and Ultrasound, Westmead

Radiology uses imaging to diagnose and treat diseases seen within the body. A variety of imaging techniques such as X-ray radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine including positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to diagnose and or treat diseases. Interventional radiology is the performance of medical procedures with the guidance of imaging technologies. Nuclear medicine involves using radioisotopes in the diagnosis, management and treatment of disease. Imaging techniques have been used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases for decades. The 1950s and 1960s saw the widespread introduction of nuclear medicine and ultrasound. Research continues to find ways to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the technology and the treatments.

Research

A/Prof Roger Fulton: Improving the Diagnostic Accuracy and Safety of X-ray Computed Tomography

Patient motion distorts the image in diagnostic CT scans, most commonly in stroke, dementia, trauma and paediatric patients; indeed young children often require general anaesthesia to avoid motion artifacts. Although scanner manufacturers have invested heavily in developments to reduce scan time and the probability of motion, if motion does occur there is still no remedy other than to repeat the scan, which also subjects the patient to a repeat radiation dose. This is especially problematic for children due to their much higher radio-sensitivity.

Having recently developed an effective method of correcting for rigid head motion in clinical helical CT scans, we are able to restore the image in all but extreme motion cases. The method can be applied retrospectively to scans acquired with standard scanning procedures. Our aim in this project is to use a variety of strategies to reduce the processing time (from up to 15 hours) to a practical level, so that motion correction, with its improved image clarity, can become a routine procedure in clinical CT imaging.

Clinical Prof Vijay Kumar: Radiopharmaceuticals for PET imaging of infection and inflammation

Primarily involved in designing radiolabelled radiopharmaceuticals for evaluation in preclinical studies in an animal model and then using them in patient studies in a clinical setting. We have developed Ga-68 labelled PET-agents (Positron emitting isotopes) for imaging neuroendocrine tumours, prostate cancer and bacterial infections. We have developed F18 FET (Fluoroethyl tyrosine) for imaging brain tumours and adopted the technology in automated synthesis.

Current Projects

  • We have developed 99mTc-labelled glucosamine for imaging arthritis. Our preliminary studies were to standardise the technique of synthsising the agent and evaluated its utility in imaging arthritis in an adjuvent-induced arthritis in an animal model. The 99mTc-Glucosamine is successfully used in patient studies for imaging arthritis, osteo-arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis etc. More than 300 patients were studied using this agent.
  • We have developed Ga-68 labelled DOTA-TATE (DOTA-Octrotide) for imaging neuroendocrine tumours in patients since 2009. We are one of the first centres in Australia to introduce this technology. We studied more than 300-400 patients per year in the clinical settings.
  • We have developed Ga-68 labelled PSMA (Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen) for imaging prostate cancer. It is clinically used in our department and more than 100 patients are studied per annum. This is the superior imaging agent for prostate cancer compared to other modality (eg. CT/MRI etc).
  • We have developed Ga-68 labelled infection imaging agents. Ga-68 Citrate, Ga-68 Apotransferrin and Ga-68UBI (Ubiquicidin). The first 2 agents are in clinical use and the last agent (Ga-68 UBI) is currently being evaluated in preclinical studies.