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$8.6 Million Suite To Image Infectious Diseases

August 18, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Emergency Radiology
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Perhaps Philips Healthcare thinks Houston is due for a plague. Philips and The Methodist Hospital Research Institute of Houston are collaborating on developing new imaging technology designed to identify the start and cause of an infectious disease epidemic.

According to a news release from The Methodist Hospital System, Philips and Methodist are creating an $8.6 million imaging suite that will study patterns of tissue damage and “metabolic disarray” caused by¬† various infectious diseases. Crucially, neither the imaging devices nor the suite nor the people operating them will be exposed to the infectious agents.

The suite, to be completed later this month, will contain some sweet machines: an Ingenia 3.0T MRI scanner, a Gemini TF PET/CT scanner, a Precedence SPECT/CT scanner, and a Veradius mobile C-arm X-ray system.

Airtight containment vessels with life-support systems will isolate patients, researchers, and staff from the infected samples and research models. Rapid-scan technology will allow time series imagery. Said Edward Jones, vice president of operations for the research institute:

Researchers at Methodist will be able to do live imaging studies that give them crucial information about how and where infections are progressing.

This will be the sole practical test site for the development of the technology. The suite will be designed to study biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) pathogens, such as tuberculosis bacteria. Initially, at least, it will examine model organisms, not actual infected humans.

King Li, MD, radiology chair at Methodist and the project’s leader, said one eventual goal was to develop a similar facility that would be equipped to diagnose a large influx of real-world patients with infectious diseases:

If the partnership with Philips is successful, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute can take the next steps toward creating the only clinic in the world expressly designed to image patients with infectious agents, such as multidrug-resistant TB. This will allow for medical centers in the world to be more prepared for emerging diseases and bioterrorism.

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Related seminar: Diagnostic Imaging Review: For Residents, Fellows and Radiologists


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