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The History of the PET-CT Scanner

The PET-CT scanner, or Positron emission tomography-computed tomography, is a combination of the PET scanner and the CT scanner. The concept collects data from both the PET and CT scanners in one scan session combined in a single gantry system (the gantry is the ring the patient is inserted in), in order to produce a single superposed image. This is useful since PET scans are best for the spatial distribution of metabolic or biochemical activity in the body, and CT scans are best for anatomical imaging. This is because PET scans can display changes in processes at a cellular level, whereas a CT scan reveals glimpses at tissues and organs.

The PET scanner was introduced in the early 1960’s, and the CT scanner in the early 1970’s. It wasn’t until the 90’s, however, that the idea to combine the two for even better image quality was considered. Until the invention of the PET-CT, medical doctors were frustrated for years, attempting to match two different scans from the PET or CT scanners and studying them in order to determine the exact location of a tumor, for example.

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