"I was originally a consultant physician and rheumatologist before becoming a nuclear medicine physician and specialising in ultrasound” begins Dr Iain Duncan of Garran Medical Imaging.
“So I’ve always had a focus on the patients’ needs. This is one of the unique things about GMI.”
Applying that focus to diagnostics, “We’ll decide if they need one type of scan more than another based on the symptoms, which is sometimes difficult to fit within the confines of the Medicare system, but it’s best for the patient.”
Most of the staff are also multi-trained and they can help each other out if a patient comes in with something that is difficult to diagnose.
He says “They often can sort out the patient’s problem by utilising multiple imaging modalities.”
This is because “Medical imaging provides the road map for managing patient problems and helping physicians to make a meaningful diagnosis.”
As an example, “a lot of conditions still need to have a biopsy to diagnose them accurately. But as imaging gets better and better, the imaging may be able to determine what the best treatment will be without the need for that biopsy.”
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Also, while scans show quite a lot of detail already, “the doctor still has to sort out what part of that detail matters and what doesn’t. If you’re 60 then there’ll be a lot of things going on in the body, and some of it will simply be related to being 60.”
However, “I don’t want to downplay the role of clinician, because as imaging gets more detailed, there’s more and more that needs to be sorted out” with regards to what is found in those images. Patients' want to go and have a scan and know the person giving the scan is going to be able to communicate with their doctor, and communicate with the patient.”
“Radiopharmaceuticals are administered to the patient to see functional information within the body. Different radiopharmaceuticals are used to look at different body functions and pathologies. Examples of nuclear medicine tests include bone scans, myocardial perfusion scans which look at the heart and also as a treatment for certain types of cancer.”
“This is an area I specialise in. We will inject the radiopharmaceutical into the patient and then I’ll be looking for fractures, degenerative problems, or cancer a lot of the time. We do a lot of that.”
GMI are also at the cutting edge of technology. “We have a particular type of nuclear medicine called xSPECT.”
Very simply, the gamma wave data that is picked up from the radiopharmaceuticals is combined with the CT scan data in a clever new way in order to dramatically improve the detail that is visible in the image.
“We are a reference site for Siemens for this kind of technology, which is revolutionising the field. It is a quantum leap better than anything else. With it, there are some things we can see that no other scanner can see.”
GMI also perform research. “By the end of this year there’ll be papers we’ve written on the topic published in Europe. The technology that we have is changing the way a lot of problems can be managed.”
The first paper will be using information gained from a couple of hundred cases they’ve looked at.
More information about xSPECT can be found at garranmedicalimaging.com.au/xspect-bone.