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OHSU installs state-of-the-art scanner

PET/MRI scanner will be used for clinical care and research
A crane outside of a large medical building hoists a massive magnet through the air.
A 17,000-pound magnet is hoisted toward a temporary opening in the west side of the Lamfrom Biomedical Research Building on OHSUs Marquam Hill campus on Saturday, June 19. The scanner combines Positron Emission Tomography, or PET, and MRI technology and is the first of its kind installed in the Pacific Northwest. (OHSU/Joshua Tappert)

Oregon Health & Science University is the first institution in the Pacific Northwest to install a new type of scanner that will advance both patient care and clinical research.

The 3-Tesla magnet for the GE Signa Positron Emission Tomography/Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner was delivered and installed June 19 in the Lamfrom Biomedical Research Building on OHSU’s Marquam Hill campus. The $11.7-million project includes the cost of the scanner and renovations needed to accommodate it in the Lamfrom building, which was originally completed in 2005.

Installation required considerable logistical planning. At 17,000 pounds and 8 feet in diameter, the magnet for this innovative machine was delivered through a temporary opening on the west side of the building.

The scanner is expected to be operational by November.

The new scanner combines two machines critical to medical diagnosis into one. Positron Emission Tomography, or PET, uses small amounts of radioactive materials to reveal the function of organs in the body, while MRI uses strong magnetic fields to evaluate the anatomy and selected functions of different tissues and organs. Clinicians and scientists can accurately and simultaneously evaluate the fine detail related to structures and functions of soft tissues.

Typically, PET and MRI scanners work independently of each other, which means patients may need to make several separate visits for imaging. This device combines the two technologies and saves patients time by offering one-stop imaging. The sensitivity of the digital PET camera within the new device also reduces radiation exposure from diagnostic studies, and can be more convenient for patients who need both PET and MRI scans, as this device does both simultaneously.

The device will be especially useful for organs and diseases that are better imaged with MRI rather than a different type of scanner called PET CT, for computed tomography. These include neurological conditions such as epilepsy and brain tumors, head and neck cancers, heart conditions such as cardiac sarcoidosis and myocarditis, in addition to different types of cancer such as prostate cancer, rectal cancer and cervical cancer.

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