Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital Unveils Big Bore PET/CT

Colorado State University this month unveils a PET/CT scanner that is the first of its kind in any hospital in the world and the only PET/CT scanner dedicated to serving the needs of veterinary patients. The scanner is specially tailored for veterinary medicine, allowing it to be used on small and large animals.

The Gemini TruFlight Big Bore PET/CT imaging system will benefit multiple services at the university’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital including oncology, neurology, cardiology and equine medicine. The scanner became functional for patients this week. The hospital also is planning to install a customized table to better accommodate CT scans of large animal patients.

“The university’s ability to remain a leader in veterinary medicine and cancer research depends upon its ability to stay on the cutting-edge of technology and knowledge,” said Tony Frank, president of Colorado State University. “This new system provides another avenue for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital to offer animals the best treatment available while greatly enhancing our ability to learn more about how to treat – and save lives — of people and animals with diseases such as cancer.”

The scanner’s big bore feature provides a 15 centimeter larger patient opening than previous generations of PET/CT systems. The larger opening gives the hospital the ability to image equine and other large animal patients more easily and provide positioning flexibility when scanning oncology veterinary patients.

A PET/CT scanner combines a computed tomography — CT– scanning functionality with a positron emission tomography — PET — scanning functionality. CT provides detailed anatomic images of body regions. PET allows veterinarians at the university to image blood flow to tumors and metabolically active structures. The two images can be combined to create a three-dimensional fused image of the structures.

The state-of-the-art scanner will complement the hospital’s Varian Trilogy Linear Accelerator, which delivers radiation for cancer treatment to animals and also is the only system of its kind in any animal clinic or veterinary teaching hospital in the world. The accelerator and new PET/CT scanner are connected with software that allows them to share images, improving the veterinarian’s ability to plan for treatment.

“We’re pleased to be the first veterinary hospital or clinic in the world to offer this service to our clients,” said Dr. Lance Perryman, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It further enhances the expertise of the university’s veterinarians, who are among the best in the world at diagnosing and treating a number of diseases that are important to both the animal and human populations.”

The PET/CT scanner will be used for cancer treatment, detection of metastases, surgical and radiation treatment planning and monitoring the effect of treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy on a malignant tumor. The scanner includes respiratory gating which allows sophisticated tracking of chest movement when the patient breathes to optimize imaging and radiation therapy of lung cancer.

The new Philips Healthcare PET/CT scanner was funded with assistance from appropriation requests from former U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, through NASA and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The university and College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences also contributed required federal matching funds and facility renovation funds. Some of those funds are expected to be recouped through services to hospital clients.

“While I was a student in the CSU veterinary college and since graduation, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has always been among the best,” Allard said. “I was happy to help secure the money for the new CT imaging machine because I believe it will result in not only national recognition but worldwide recognition of the research and clinical services the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences provides in radiology."