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Nuclear Medicine Launch Ground-braking Heart Scanner Service

The Trust’s Nuclear Medicine Centre has begun a new programme of heart scans that can cut appointment times by up to three and a half hours. Although “rubidium-82” PET scans have been used for a number of years in the United States, Manchester is only the second city in the UK after London to introduce a service, and will be one of only a few centres across the world to offer the procedure. Rubidium-82 is a very short-lived isotope (half-life: 75 seconds), which means that large quantities of activity can be safely used to obtain high-quality images in a short time, whilst giving only a small radiation dose to the patient. The new protocol will produce a full set of both stress and rest images in a total imaging time of 30 minutes, compared to 3-4 hours using the old method - thallium-201 or with tracer compounds labelled with technetium-99m. The images resulting from the new technique will provide an enhanced level of information on regional myocardial perfusion, and will be acquired using a state-of-the-art PET-CT scanner, affording both high resolution and the best method of attenuation correction, meaning a clearer picture will be obtained from a wider range of patients than would have been possible with thallium or technetium. The first generator of rubidium-82 was delivered to the Nuclear Medicine Centre on 17th May 2010, and scanning activity has been steadily built up since then. About 30 patients a week are now being scanned using the new technique - just under half of their current workload in myocardial perfusion imaging. The new service is being provided at the Trust’s Nuclear Medicine Centre by a team led by Dr Parthiban Arumugam, Consultant in Nuclear Medicine, and Christine Tonge, Consultant Clinical Scientist, along with Caroline Hurley and Gill Davidson, nuclear medicine technologists. Robert Shields, Directorate Manager, said: “This is a remarkable development that will revolutionise our heart-scanning service. For many years we have needed to increase capacity and reduce the waiting times for these cardiac patients. Now we can produce a fabulous set of sectional images of the myocardium at both stress and rest, all completed in about half an hour. Patients are delighted with the speed of the service and our Consultants are very happy with the quality of the results. Congratulations are due to the team of staff who have implemented this advanced technique.”