EXPLORER is a combined positron emission tomography (PET) and x-ray computed tomography (CT) scanner that can image the entire body at the same time.
(EXPLORER total body PET scan)
Because the machine captures radiation far more efficiently than other scanners, EXPLORER can produce an image in as little as one second and, over time, produce movies that can track specially tagged drugs as they move around the entire body.
"While I had imagined what the images would look like for years, nothing prepared me for the incredible detail we could see on that first scan," said Cherry, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering. "While there is still a lot of careful analysis to do, I think we already know that EXPLORER is delivering roughly what we had promised.
"The level of detail was astonishing, especially once we got the reconstruction method a bit more optimized," he said.
Cherry said he expects EXPLORER will have a profound impact on clinical research and patient care because it produces higher-quality diagnostic PET scans than have ever been possible. EXPLORER also scans up to 40 times faster than current PET scans and can produce a diagnostic scan of the whole body in as little as 20-30 seconds.
There is a remarkable prediction of a method for scanning the entire body that appears in a 1930 story by Golden Age star Jack Williamson. The device was not medical; it was effectively a teleportation device. Read how the human body is scanned:
"An analogy from television might help. You know that by means of the scanning disc, the picture is transformed into mere rapid fluctuations in the brightness of a beam of light. In a parallel manner, the focal plane of the Express Ray moves slowly through the object, progressively, dissolving layers of the thickness of a single atom, which are accurately reproduced at the other focus of the instrument--which might be in Venus!
"But the analogy of the lens is the better of the two. For no receiving instrument is required, as in television. The object is built up of an infinite series of plane layers, at the focus of the ray, no matter where that may be. Such a thing would be impossible with radio apparatus because even with the best beam transmission, all but a tiny fraction of the power is lost, and power is required to rebuild the atoms.
(Read more about the Cosmic Express)
Take a look at these other full-body scanner stories: