South Tees has installed the first Siemens ‘Symbia Evo’ gamma camera in the country at The James Cook University Hospital.
Based in the nuclear medicine department at the Middlesbrough hospital, the £250,000 investment is to replace the existing camera which had done a sterling job over the last 13 years.
Where other diagnostic imaging procedures—such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound—offer pictures of physical structure, the gamma camera allows clinicians to see how the body is functioning and to measure its chemical and biological processes.
Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) to diagnose and treat disease. In nuclear medicine imaging, the radiopharmaceuticals are detected by gamma cameras that work with computers to provide very precise pictures of the area of the body being imaged.
Although the technology has changed little in the last 13 years, the new camera will be able to see a significant higher number of patients as it can scan much quicker than the previous generations of cameras. It also does its own quality controls overnight, when not in use, so the team are ready to start treating patients as soon as they arrive for their appointment, rather than having to go through the quality control process at the start of each day.
Mark Richardson, head of nuclear medicine at the trust said: “The investment allows us to modernise the trust’s nuclear medicine service. It’s a diverse service we provide, seeing patients being treated for cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s diseases and dementia as well as quite a few practices in paediatrics.
“The underlying technology remains fairly static in relation to how the detectors work but new automated features will allow us to get through more patients in a day and there’s more flexibility in the way the machine moves around the patient in much the same way the old camera did.
“The previous camera gave us excellent reliability for its entire life and that was a factor in going with the same manufacturer. We purchased this just as this model was being launched in the UK, so we are very proud to be the first to have this up and running.”